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 US television network said.
At the time of the blast, they were travelling 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 US 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 US vehicles.

“They were in the lead vehicle and they were up in the hatch, so they were exposed. They did have all of their body armour 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 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 US-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 US forces on January 24 in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi on Tuesday.

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

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