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Sally Hillier

Death and danger in reporting war - by Sally Hillier, Deputy Editor, Ariel magazine.

The deaths in Iraq of a BBC translator and a cameraman highlighted the dangers of frontline reporting and brought home with brutal force the risks of covering war.

Fighting in the Gulf have left more than a dozen newsgatherers from various organisations either dead or missing and others badly wounded.

Among them is BBC producer Stuart Hughes, who had a foot and part of his leg amputated. He was caught in the same landmine blast that killed freelance BBC cameraman Kaveh Golestan.


"This has been a terrible war for television news," said World Affairs Editor John Simpson. "There were nothing like these losses [among news crews] in Afghanistan or during the first Gulf War".

The unilateral crews – those not attached or embedded with military units – were the most vulnerable.

The veteran correspondent, himself unembedded, had a remarkable escape when the US/Kurdish convoy in which he and his team was travelling in northern Iraq was attacked in error by a US warplane.

His translator Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed was fatally wounded.

The rest of the team - cameraman Fred Scott, producer Tom Giles, fixer Dragan Petrovic, safety adviser Craig Summers, and two drivers – sustained minor wounds.

The horror of war

A TV report by Simpson – shocked, bleeding, trousers torn by the blast – graphically captured the horror of the incident.

"This is just a scene from hell here. All the vehicles are on fire. There are bodies burning around me, there are bodies lying around, there are bits of bodies on the ground."

While Simpson and his colleagues reflected on their narrow escape, BBC representatives including Adrian Van Klaveren, head of newsgathering, were in Tehran for the funeral of Kaveh Golestan.

Richard Sambrook, director of news, described the prize-winning cameraman, who had been associated with the BBC for a number of years, as "an outstanding photojournalist who had worked in support of freedom in Iran and elsewhere".

As well as Stuart Hughes, correspondent Jim Muir was with Golestan when he was killed. Muir was unhurt and has returned to Iran where he is based.

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