The International Press Institute (IPI) today mourned the death of a female Kurdish journalist who died in a roadside blast near Mosul in Iraq on Saturday.
Shifa Gardi, a 30-year-old reporter and anchor for the Iraqi Kurdish TV channel Rudaw, was working on a story on the Islamic State group when a bomb detonated, killing Gardi, a Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi commander, and four other fighters, according to the station. Her cameraman, Younis Mustafa, and seven others were also injured in the attack.
Gardi, who had worked for the network since 2013, was one of only a few women reporting on heavy fighting in western Mosul between advancing Iraqi forces and Islamic State group militants.
Scott Griffen, IPI Director of Press Freedom Programmes, said that Gardi’s death demonstrates the risks journalists and media workers face in Iraq.
“Iraq remains among the deadliest countries for journalists in the world, especially for those covering the ongoing violent conflict,” he noted. “Shifa Gardi paid the highest price for her courage and commitment to reporting the truth amid tremendous risk, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.”
Since October 2016, Gardi had been presenting a daily special programme on the Iraqi offensive, Focus Mosul, and had recently started to report from inside Mosul itself, Rudaw said.
At the time of the bombing, she was following a lead on a mass grave where Islamic State group militants have allegedly killed and buried hundreds of civilians. Her colleague Ranja Jamal told Rudaw that they had been searching for the location for a long time. She said that a paramilitary commander told Gardi he knew where it was just moments before the explosion.
In a statement released on Sunday, Rudaw described Gardi as one of the station’s most daring journalists. “She was known as a renowned skilled journalist in Kurdish news media, and brought outstanding coverage to Rudaw TV right from the beginning of its establishment,” the statement read.
Political leaders joined fellow journalists in sending their condolences following Gardi’s death. Falah Mustafa, head of Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government, described Gardi as “a brave journalist” and “a role model to young women”.
According to IPI’s Death Watch, more journalists have been killed in Iraq than any other country since 1997. Since the rise of the Islamic State group in 2013, 52 journalists have been killed in the country, either while covering armed conflict or being directly targeted due to their work.