| BAGHDAD, March 23
BAGHDAD, March 23 An Iraqi journalist was shot
dead by a Kurdish officer at a checkpoint in Baghdad on Saturday
as he went to work, provoking protests by other journalists and
a promise by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest the
Mohammed Badawi, the Baghdad bureau chief of Radio Free Iraq
was on his way to the office near the Iraqi presidential
compound in the centre of the capital when the killing took
"I was watching the cars passing through the checkpoint when
a quarrel occurred between a driver and a soldier ... suddenly,
two soldiers came and dragged the driver from his car and began
to beat him," a man who identified himself as Riyadh and an
eyewitness at the scene told Reuters.
"The driver pushed one of the soldiers away but a lieutenant
came and shot him dead in the head".
Badawi's body was left at the scene for hours as dozens of
Iraqi journalists gathered to protest his killing and demand the
arrest of his killer.
Troops and army humvees surrounded the presidential compound
in preparation to arrest the killer, but Iraqi security forces
said Kurdish troops refused to hand him over.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went to the scene,
kissed the victim's body and vowed to arrest the killer.
Twenty minutes later, the commander of the Baghdad security
operations center said the killer had been detained and state
television broadcast footage of an officer it identified as the
Dozens of journalists came out to Hurriya Square holding the
body of Badawi wrapped in a red blanket and chanting: "No no to
Kurds, No no to Kurds".
Badawi was a father of five.
"Iraq is the second most dangerous country in the world for
journalists," said Ibrahim al-Saragi, the head of the Iraqi
Journalists Rights Defense Association. "There is a legislative
vacuum inside Iraq to protect journalists and unfortunately, the
targeting of journalists in Iraq is taking place on a daily
basis, due to the lack of a mechanism to protect them".
(Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Eric Walsh)