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Reuters journalist was killed during ‘targeted’ strike in Lebanon, Reporters Without Borders says

Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed earlier this month in southern Lebanon by a "targeted" strike from the direction of the Israeli border, Reporters Without Borders says, based on preliminary findings of its investigation.

Initial findings released after Issam Abdallah died while covering exchange of fire close to Israel's border

A journalist poses for a selfie.

Reuters visuals journalist Issam Abdallah was killed on Oct. 13 in southern Lebanon by a "targeted" strike from the direction of the Israeli border, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Sunday, based on preliminary findings of its investigation.

"According to the ballistic analysis carried out by RSF, the shots came from the east of where the journalists were standing, from the direction of the Israeli border," the group said.

"Two strikes in the same place in such a short space of time (just over 30 seconds), from the same direction, clearly indicate precise targeting."

The RSF report did not conclude who had launched the strike against the journalists or provide its underlying analysis.

The Israel Defence Forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the RSF's findings. It has said it does not deliberately target journalists and that it is investigating the incident.

Call for Israel to investigate

In a statement, Reuters said: "We are reviewing the preliminary conclusion reached by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which found that Issam Abdallah and other journalists in [Alma al-Shaab] appear to have been deliberately fired upon from the direction of Israel on 13 October.

"We reiterate our call to the Israeli authorities to conduct a swift, thorough and transparent probe into what happened. And we call upon all other authorities with information about the incident to provide it. We will continue to fight for the rights of all journalists to report the news in the public interest free of harassment or harm, wherever they are."

Abdallah was killed while working with six other journalists near the village of Alma al-Shaab, close to the Israeli border, where the Israeli military and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have been trading fire.

RSF said its preliminary findings were based on what it described as a "thorough analysis of eyewitness accounts, video footage and ballistics expertise." Its investigation continues, the report added.

Journalists were in the open, on top of a hill

"It is unlikely that the journalists were mistaken for combatants, especially as they were not hiding: in order to have a clear field of vision, they had been in the open for more than an hour, on the top of a hill," the report said. "They were wearing helmets and bullet-proof waistcoats marked 'press.'"

Asked why it published preliminary findings and an accompanying six-minute video rather than wait until its investigation had concluded, the head of RSF's Middle East desk, Jonathan Dagher, said: "We are certain of our findings at this stage and wanted the public to know about them.

"There are other elements which we have not yet been able to confirm." He did not elaborate further.

Lebanon's army and government have blamed Israel for Abdallah's death. A Lebanese military source told Reuters that the claim is supported by a technical on-the-ground assessment carried out after the attack.

Abdallah was with two other Reuters journalists, Maher Nazeh and Thaer Al-Sudani, as well as journalists from media groups Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse, when he was killed.

On Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists, an NGO based in New York, said its preliminary investigations showed that at least 31 journalists were among the more than 9,000 people killed on both sides of the Israel-Hamas war since it began on Oct. 7 with the Hamas attack on civilians in southern Israel.

WATCH | The implications of drawing Lebanon into the Israel-Hamas war:

What is Lebanon's role in the Hamas-Israel war?

5 days ago

Duration 2:35

Featured VideoCross-border attacks between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon have been increasing. It's the worst escalation of violence in the region in 17 years. Here's what a full-scale attack on Israel's northern border would mean for the current conflict.

With files from CBC News

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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