Two journalists killed in rocket attack in south Baghdad

LONDON - Two unnamed journalists, one German and one Spanish, have been killed this afternoon, following a rocket attack on a US position south of Baghdad, as two more, this time Polish journalists, have been abducted by Iraqi troops.

There are currently no further details available on the journalists killed other than their nationalities. They were killed along with two US marines when an Iraqi missile struck the tactical operations centre of the Second Brigade of the US Army's Third Infantry Division, south of Baghdad.

According to reports, the two US Marines died after their armoured personnel carrier attached to the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, was hit as they took part in an effort to secure a bridge over the River Tigris River outside Baghdad.

Polish media authorities have said that the two Polish journalists, Marcin Firlej and Jacek Kaczmarek, were abducted by armed Iraqis at a checkpoint near Hilla, about 130km south of Baghdad.

The death of the two reporters brings the total toll of reporters killed covering the war in Iraq to eight.

It follows the death at the weekend of David Bloom from NBC, who died last night. NBC said that his death was not combat related and that he died of a pulmonary embolism.

His death followed that of another American journalist, Washington Post columnist and Atlantic Monthly editor-at-large Michael Kelly. Kelly was the first American journalist to die in the conflict.

Last week, BBC cameraman Kaveh Golestan was killed after stepping on a landmine in Northern Iraq and his producer, Stuart Hughes, was injured.

Channel 4 journalist Gaby Rado fell to his death from a hotel roof in the northern Iraqi town of Sulaymaniyah; ITN's Terry Lloyd died in a suspected friendly fire incident near Basra; and Australian Broadcasting Corporation cameraman Paul Moran was killed by a car bomb in northern Iraq.

According to US Army Major Mike Birmingham: "Right now, four [are reported] KIA [killed in action]. Fifteen WIA [wounded in action], of which two are critical. Of KIA, two are soldiers, two are reporters."

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