Explosion kills five at northern Iraq checkpoint

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 23, 2003

GERDIGO, Iraq (AP) -- An apparent car bomb killed at least five people, including an Australian cameraman, at a road checkpoint Saturday near a camp of the al-Qaida-linked militant group Ansar al-Islam. At least eight people were injured.

The group's base in northeastern Iraq was attacked overnight by U.S. cruise missiles.

The death prompted the Pentagon to urge journalists not positioned with U.S. military units to ''exercise restraint'' while covering the fighting.

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Britain's ITN television news reported Saturday that three members of an ITN news crew were missing after coming under fire en route to Basra in southern Iraq.

The missing men were identified as reporter Terry Lloyd, cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Othman.

Another cameraman, Daniel Demoustier, was injured as the crew drove toward Basra in two vehicles. ITN said in London that Demoustier was not able to see what happened to his colleagues.

''I was overtaken by one of the Iraqi vehicles. They gave me a thumbs up, then all of a sudden we were fired on from the right-hand side,'' he said. ''I ducked down in my seat and kept driving. I looked to the right and correspondent Terry Lloyd was gone.''

At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Victoria Clarke warned that journalists who were not among the hundreds embedded with U.S. military units could get caught in the middle of the fighting.

''We ask all news organizations to exercise restraint,'' she told journalists. ''Combat operations are moving in a fast and unpredictable fashion. The coalition forces will, of course, exercise extreme care whenever there are noncombatants. However, reporters who get between coalition and Iraqi forces put themselves at extreme risk.''

The journalist killed in the north was Paul Moran, 39, a freelance cameraman with the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the ABC said in a statement.