January 29, 2006

US journalists seriously injured in Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff and
camera operator Doug Vogt were seriously injured in a roadside
bombing in Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. television network said.

At the time of the blast, they were traveling with an Iraqi
Army unit in an Iraqi vehicle near Taji, near Baghdad, the
network said. After the blast, the vehicle came under small
arms fire, ABC news reported.

"Bob and Doug are in serious condition and are being
treated at a U.S. military hospital in Iraq," the network said
in a statement.

Both men have head injuries, the network reported.

They were injured by an improvised explosive device, which
are often planted by insurgents on roads to attack U.S.

"They were in the lead vehicle and they were up in the
hatch, so they were exposed. They did have all of their body
armor on. They had helmets on. They had eye protection. But the
IED went off, the improvised explosive device," said ABC
reporter Martha Raddatz.

She said they were taken to a military hospital in Balad,
Iraq, where Woodruff underwent surgery.

Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas were named by ABC on December
5 as co-anchors to replace the late Peter Jennings on the
network's "World News Tonight." They started on January 3.

Woodruff, 44, is from Michigan and joined ABC in 1996. He
has reported from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from Italy
for the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope
Benedict XVI and from Yugoslavia during the conflict in Kosovo.
He had also covered the Justice Department in Washington.

Vogt, 46, is Canadian and lives in Aix-en-Provence in
France. He is an Emmy award-winning cameraman and covered
covering major events in Europe, Asia and the Middle East
including the aftermath of the Asian tsunami in Sri Lanka.

Iraq remains the most dangerous place for journalists. Some
60 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led
invasion in March 2003, according to the media watchdog the
Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ. At least 41 of those
were Iraqi, the CPJ said in a recent report.

Other media watchdogs say the toll is higher.

An Iraqi television cameraman was killed in clashes between
Sunni rebels and U.S. forces on Jan 24 in the insurgent
stronghold of Ramadi on Tuesday.

A cameraman working for Reuters, Dhia Najim, was shot dead
during fighting between U.S. Marines and insurgents on November
1, 2004. The exact circumstances of his killing have never been
clarified despite requests to the U.S. military from Reuters.

Many journalists have also been taken hostage; some have
been killed by their abductors but most have been released
unharmed. American journalist Jill Carroll was kidnapped in
Baghdad on January 7 and is still missing.

ABC is a unit of The Walt Disney Co.