IFJ warns embedding puts journalists 'in the firing line'

The International Federation of Journalists has warned of the high risk of embedding reporters with the military following the tragic death of Rupert Hamer.

Hamer, the defence correspondent for the Sunday Mirror, is the second embedded journalist to be killed in Afghanistan in recent weeks after he became the victim of a roadside bomb on Saturday.

Aidan White, IFJ general secretary, said today: “We are shocked by this incident and send our sincere condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Rupert Hamer.

“His death shows that Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most dangerous reporting assignments. Travelling with the army does not lessen the risk to reporters. Indeed, as this tragedy shows, it can put journalists directly in the firing line.”

Hamer’s death follows that Michelle Lang, a Canadian reporter working for the Calgary Herald, who was killed along with four Canadian soldiers in a similar roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan on 30 December.

White added: “These terrible tragedies show that telling the story of conflict remains the most perilous of tasks for media staff.

“As we mourn and wish those injured a swift recovery we must redouble our efforts to reduce the risks that journalists face, even when we know that casualties are unavoidable.”

Hamer, who became the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan, was travelling with US Marines when their patrol vehicle struck an improvised explosive device north-west of Nawa in Helmand Province.

The blast also killed a US marine and an Afghan soldier while Sunday Mirror photographer Philip Coburn was seriously injured, but is in a stable condition.

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