Anger at Iraq deaths

Greek officials, political parties and journalists expressed outrage at the killing of journalists by US forces in Baghdad yesterday. EU president Greece expressed concern to the United States and sought ways to protect journalists covering the conflict. Two cameramen – Taras Protsyuk of Reuters and Jose Couso of Spain’s Telecinco – were killed when an American tank fired on the Palestine hotel in which foreign correspondents are staying. Tariq Ayoub, a correspondent for Al Jazeera, was killed when an air-to-surface missile hit the Qatari-based network’s offices. «After the information we received today regarding the attacks on the journalists’ hotels, we undertook an initiative as the presidency of the EU,» Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters. «I immediately contacted US Assistant Secretary of State Marc Grossman and expressed these concerns. He assured me that he will inform the US general staff and will take into consideration these concerns and whatever measures are necessary for journalists’ security. I hope that with this action we will have done all we can for the security of European journalists, of all journalists who live in these hotels,» Papandreou said. He also discussed journalists’ security in Iraq in a phone call with the EU’s foreign policy and defense chief, Javier Solana. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas condemned the attacks on journalists and said the government was ready to help the numerous Greek correspondents still in Baghdad to return. «Today, once again, war showed its horrible face,» Protopappas said. «After the hundreds or thousands of civilian victims in Iraq, today the bombs hit the world of journalists,» he said. «I want to condemn these acts.» The conservative New Democracy party condemned «this attack on the free information of the world, at a critical time.» Its spokesman, Theodoris Roussopoulos, expressed his congratulations to the Greek correspondents there. The Communist Party described the attacks as «premeditated crimes,» adding, «With this, the Anglo-American imperialists are trying to force journalists to flee Iraq so that there will be no coverage of their crimes.» It accused the government and US Embassy of trying to force Greek journalists to return. The Athens Journalists’ Union (ESIEA) condemned «the murderous attack.»