Iraqi TV journalist shot day after anti-government activist's killing

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image copyrightAlforat TV
image captionAhmed Hassan, a reporter for Alforat TV, was targeted outside his home in Diwaniya province

An Iraqi journalist is in a critical condition after being shot in the head, in the second such attack in 24 hours.

Ahmed Hassan, a reporter for Alforat TV, was targeted as he got out of his car at his home in the al-Shamiya area of Diwaniya province early on Monday.

Early on Sunday, prominent anti-government activist Ihab al-Wazni was killed by gunmen in Karbala.

image copyrightAFP
image captionMourners at Ihab al-Wazni's funeral blamed Iran-linked groups for his killing

His death sparked unrest in the Shia Muslim holy city. Demonstrators, who blamed militias backed by neighbouring Iran, set fire to the outer gates of the Iranian consulate.

Mr Wazni had been a vocal critic of Iran's influence in Iraq and his mother told the Al Jazeera news organisation that he had received numerous threats from Iran-linked groups.

image copyrightAFP
image captionIran said it strongly condemned the attack on its consulate in Karbala

"The militias are everywhere in the streets. They have a list which includes the names of all the activists. They will kill them one by one," she said.

The Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday it strongly condemned the attack on the consulate, but it did not comment on the killing of Mr Wazni.

A member of the semi-official Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, Fadel al-Garawi, said they had recorded 89 attacks targeting activists, journalists, lawyers and other civil society members since mass protests against corruption, high unemployment and dire public services erupted in October 2019. Thirty-four of the attacks have been fatal.

"In the event that the series of assassinations continue, Iraq will be dragged into chaos and a dangerous slope," Mr Garawi was quoted as saying by the Shafaq News website.

media captionRiham Yaqoob: Why was this Iraqi activist killed?

He called on the authorities to uncover those behind the attacks and bring them to justice - something they have consistently failed to do.

Alforat TV's owner, Shia politician Ammar al-Hakim, urged the government to protect freedom of speech and "urgently" shed light on the attacks.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a former intelligence chief who took office a year ago, repeated his promise to catch "all the killers".

Mr Kadhimi has also vowed to investigate the killing of more than 550 people by security forces and gunmen at anti-government protests in late 2019.

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