A cameraman belonging to the widely popular Al Jazeera television network was killed on Saturday in an apparent ambush on the outskirts of Benghazi.
Ali Hassan Al Jaber was on his way back to Benghazi after covering an assignment on an opposition protest in a nearby town. Unidentified assailants opened fire on his car, in which he was travelling with colleagues. The grievously wounded cameraman was brought to the hospital but did not survive his injuries. One of the bullets had apparently pierced his heart.
Al Jaber is the first journalist to be killed during the Libyan uprising generated a wave of spontaneous revulsion and anger. Outside the courthouse, the epicentre of the anti-Qadhafi revolt. Thousands gathered to mourn the loss of an intrepid journalist, and to reinforce their resolve to unseat the regime of the Libyan leader, Muammar Qadhafi.
“Here and now, Libyan and Qatari blood is mixed for the sake of freedom. Our condolences go to the Qatari people and the Al Jazeera channel” read a prominent banner held aloft by several young protesters. As the sun dipped over the Mediterranean and the lights outside the courthouse came alive, the Qatari national flag was raised from the top of the building.
Wadah Khanfar, Director-General of the Qatar based Al Jazeera channel said the network would not be silenced. The killing of Al Jaber, he said, came after Mr. Qadhafi launched an “unprecedented campaign” against the channel.
A statement from Al Jazeera said: “Al Jazeera condemns the cowardly crime, which comes as part of the Libyan regime's malicious campaign targeting Al Jazeera and its staff.”
“Al Jazeera reiterates the assault cannot dent its resolve to continue its mission, professionally enlightening the public of the unfolding events in Libya and elsewhere,” the statement added.
“Al Jazeera stresses it will relentlessly prosecute and bring to justice all perpetrators and their accomplices.”