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Reporters at Risk

War and lawlessness increasingly turn foreign correspondents into targets

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INDONESIAN soldiers marching 12 abreast had just opened fire on a crowd of East Timorese mourners when one soldier grabbed reporter Amy Goodman, threw her to the ground, and began kicking her and beating her with his rifle. Ten soldiers then surrounded Ms. Goodman and her colleague in firing-squad fashion.

''I had my passport; they kicked me in the stomach. I doubled over, but each time I could grab my breath I said, 'We're from America, we're from America!' '' says Goodman, a reporter for WBAI radio in New York.

Goodman and her colleague were let go and caught a plane out that afternoon. They brought with them first-hand accounts of the 1991 massacre of more than 250 civilians in East Timor.

Scores of reporters around the world are harassed and beaten, sometimes even assassinated, simply for doing their jobs. Local reporters are most often the targets, but foreign journalists are now more vulnerable than ever before.

''If there ever was a sense that journalists should be given some sort of immunity, it is long gone,'' says Terry Anderson, who adds that it was rare for journalists to be targets when he was snatched from his car in suburban Beirut in 1985. He was held for seven years by Islamic fundamentalists.

Mr. Anderson is now a board member of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Since January 1994, CPJ has confirmed that 110 reporters were killed on dangerous assignments or assassinated because of their work. Another 22 deaths are under investigation.

In the Bosnian conflict alone, CPJ has confirmed 41 journalist killed because of their profession since 1991. Another 12 deaths are still being investigated.

''Bosnia has been ... the most dangerous foreign conflict for journalists since Vietnam,'' says Bill Orme, CPJ's executive director. ''That is doubly remarkable given its geographic scale, the smaller number of combatants, and that it's in the heart of Europe.''


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