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UNESCO deplores murder of Al Jazeera cameraman in Libya

UNESCO deplores murder of Al Jazeera cameraman in Libya

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today condemned the murder of an Al Jazeera cameraman who was killed in an ambush on the outskirts of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi last weekend.

Ali Hassan Al-Jaber was returning to the rebel-held city after covering a story in a neighbouring city when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car, according to the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders. Another passenger was injured in the attack.

“The death of Ali Hassan Al-Jaber takes the violence and intimidation against journalists in Libya to a new extreme and highlights the risks taken by the media in trying to do its job,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“All those exercising authority in Libya must realize that such acts will not make the problems go away. Peace and development hinge on meeting the aspirations of the Libyan people, not on repression of freedom of speech and of the public right to receive information,” said Ms. Bokova.

The ambush is the latest in a series of violent attacks, beatings and arrests of journalists in Libya, which has been in turmoil since mid-February when protesters took to the streets demanding the ouster of long-time leader Muammar Al-Qadhafi. The ensuing violence has caused over 280,000 people to flee their homes, with most crossing over into neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

The authorities in the North African nation have also been jamming the signal of foreign media and inciting violence against journalists, according to UNESCO.