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Journalists feared hurt in Iraq

Journalists have been warned not to travel into Iraq from Kuwait as the situation is still not safe.
Journalists have been warned not to travel into Iraq from Kuwait as the situation is still not safe.

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CNN reporters Nic Robertson and Rym Brahimi and producer Ingrid Formanek describe the circumstances of their departure from Baghdad, Iraq.
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KUWAIT CITY (CNN) -- The U.S. Army says it has received reports of at least four incidents involving members of the news media who came under Iraqi fire after sneaking across the border from Kuwait to Iraq.

The incidents appear to have resulted in at least three serious injuries or deaths, said Col. Guy Shields, a spokesman for the U.S. Army.

In incidents involving the media, an Australian cameraman was killed on Saturday by a suicide bomber in northern Iraq. (Cameraman killed)

Separately, three British ITN journalists are listed as missing after coming under fire near Basra in the south of the country. (Crew missing)

There are 2,074 registered members of the news media in Kuwait, 529 of whom are embedded with coalition forces.

"That leaves us with 1,445 media who are unilateral, many of whom are trying to get across the border," he said.

None of those who became stranded under fire was an embedded journalist, he said.

"We have accountability of our embedded," Shields told reporters.

"Normally, our policy is not to release initial reports ... However, in this case, the situation warrants it."

In addition, he said, the army's press desk has received calls from journalists "under fire, screaming for help."

The first incident involved a convoy of 12 vehicles carrying approximately 24 journalists who were fired upon near Umm Qasr just north of the border with Kuwait, in southern Iraq, Shields said.

"We were able to locate them and coalition forces assisted in their extraction," he said. "Luckily, they were in a position where ... we were able to get them out."

They were escorted back to the border, he said.

Later in the day, from the same area, the press desk received reports of two media vehicles under fire, he said.

And it received yet another report of journalists detained by Iraqis and possibly being wounded by Iraqis, he said.

But the military does not have units in all areas, and, in some cases, the journalists didn't know exactly where they were, he said.

"These are serious," he said. "I'm afraid it maybe took an incident like this just to show people how dangerous it is."

Shields said the military would open the border to Iraq "as soon as the situation becomes safe enough, but right now, just because we have secured a military objective does not mean that we have cleaned up every last individual, bad person."

A press badge, he said, is not a ticket across the border. "There's not a story or a picture that is worth sneaking across the border and getting killed for," he said. "It's just not worth it."

Shields would not release the names of the journalists or the organizations for which they worked.

He added, "A battlefield is not a safe place."

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