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The Associated Press
Published: May 3, 2007

BAGHDAD: Gunmen stormed the offices of an independent radio station in a predominantly Sunni area in Baghdad on Thursday, killing two employees and wounding five before bombing the building and knocking the station off the air, police said.

It was the third attack in five months against the private Dijlah radio station in the Jami’a neighborhood in western Baghdad.

Karim Youssef, the station’s deputy director, said gunmen also tried to kidnap four employees as they were riding to work, but the driver managed to get away.

He said the two-story building then came under attack with rockets, rifles and hand grenades about 2:30 p.m.

AP Television News footage showed damage furniture and bloodstains near the main gate of the two-story building.

“Our guards and the staff resisted the attackers for 30 minutes before evacuating the building,” Youssef said, adding the attackers then detonated a bomb on the first floor that destroyed all the equipment, including the transmitter.

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“Now the radio is not operating,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “We are an independent radio station depending on commercials for financing. They are targeting us because we are independent and we have no sectarian policy. Our news is balanced and we have employees from all sects and ethnic groups.”

Radio Dijla, named after the Arabic word for the Tigris River, was created in 2004 as Iraq’s first independent talk radio station.

Gunmen also abducted a radio newscaster, Karim Manhal, and his driver while releasing a female staffer who was with them near the station’s headquarters on March 17.

Nabil Ibrahim al-Dulaimi, a 36-year-old Sunni news editor with the private station was gunned down as he drove to work on Dec. 4.

Journalists and media outlets have been frequent targets of militants and sometimes security forces in Iraq since the U.S.-led war began in March 2003, with the Committee to Protect Journalists recording at least 100 journalists and 37 media support workers killed and at least 48 journalists abducted.

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