Journalists killed, injured as security situation worsens

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

A TV presenter was killed and a cameraman was wounded when the Saudi-led coalition carried out air strikes that shook the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on 20 April, a day before Saudi Arabia announced the end of its Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen.

The air strikes targeted a Houthi-controlled missile base in the south Sanaa district of Fajj Attan located near Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV, a TV station linked to former President Saleh. The missile base also contained arms and munitions depots.

Four Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV employees were killed and around ten were injured. Those killed included Mohamed Rajah Chamsan, who was one of the station’s presenters and was also a presenter on Yemen FM. The Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV building sustained damage forcing the station off the air for more than an hour.

According to local hospitals, more than 30 people were killed and around 350 were wounded in the air strikes.

Chamsan was struck in the head by shell fragments while near the Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV building with cameraman Abdallah Al-Chakry, who was seriously injured. In a video posted on YouTube, Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV journalist Nabil Al-Ayani said Chamsan was in a car about 100 metres from the building when it was hit by a missile.

Reporters Without Borders is extremely worried by the decline in the political and security situation in Yemen. In recent months, many journalists have been the targets of threats, physical attacks or abduction by Houthi rebels or unidentified persons. Rebels have also stormed many media outlets.

“We call on the authorities and all parties to the conflict to respect the work of media personnel,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said. “Targeting journalists involved in reporting activities constitutes a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions.”

According to the International Federation of Journalists and its partner, the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate, Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV had to evacuate its headquarters in late March for security reasons after a phone call from a coalition member warning that it was regarded as a military target.

A military spokesman for the coalition had moreover warned that media groups linked to the Houthi rebels or to former President Saleh constituted legitimate targets.

According to local sources, the explosion at Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV was one of the biggest in Sanaa since the Saudi-led coalition launched its offensive against the Houthi rebels on 26 March.

Yemen is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.