2 Syrian media activists seriously wounded in explosion


BEIRUT (AP) — A prominent Syrian opposition media activist and his cameraman were seriously wounded when an explosive device planted at the entrance of their residence went off in the northern city of Aleppo, activists, a rescuer and a doctor said Friday.

Bibars Mishal, a rescue worker in the first responder team of Syrian civil defense, said an explosive went off as soon as Hadi Abdullah and cameraman Khalid AlEissa walked into their apartment building late Thursday, causing the entrance, the walls, wires and the electricity boxes to fall down. Mishal said AlEissa’s body was half outside the building, with a wound to the head from shrapnel. Abdullah was buried in the rubble.

“It took us about 15 minutes to cut the wires and pull them out,” Mishal told The Associated Press by telephone from Aleppo. Mishal said the two media activists seem to have been followed, because the explosives detonated as soon as they entered the building. Other activists called it an assassination attempt against Abdullah and his colleague, accusing government agents in the city of targeting them.

Rebels and civilians in areas out of government control or besieged by their forces rely on volunteer media activists and monitoring groups to broadcast their news to the world.

Syria is the third deadliest country in the world for journalists after Yemen and Iraq, according to statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least 95 journalists have been killed in Syria since 2011, some in bombings or at the hands of Islamic State militants. Almost no international news organizations send staff to Syria because of repeated kidnappings by militants, who often kill their hostages.

Abdullah has been documenting Syria’s war for years, traveling with the rebels and reporting on some of the fiercest battles. This is the second time this week he and his cameramen were injured.

In 2013, he was among the few activists reporting from the besieged strategic border town of Qusair, which eventually fell to the government forces. He has since been traveling with rebel groups to report from the frontline mostly in northern Syria.

“Thank God, God saved us from death,” Abdullah told AP on Wednesday after he was wounded in an airstrike in Aleppo, where they were reporting on an earlier attack. They escaped the second airstrike and were wounded in the third, he said. He said he had five stitches to his head and AlEissa received four.

But the wounds from Thursday night appear to have been more severe. A doctor familiar with their condition said Friday that Abdullah and his cameraman were taken to Turkey for treatment at an undisclosed location for their safety. He said Abdullah suffered injuries to his lower limbs and AlEissa to his head and stomach. The doctor spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.