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Amid Iraq violence, journalists struggle about government control

Car-bomb attacks killed dozens in Iraq today, a reminder of the dangers that continue to lurk in the country. Local journalists are struggling with government restrictions on covering their country.

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People and security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb attack in the Karrada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, on June 13.

Karim Kadim/AP

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A series of coordinated car bombs in Iraq targeted Shiite pilgrims today, killing at least 72 people in violence that recalled the worst years of Iraq's insurgency and sectarian civil war, which peaked in 2006-07.

The killings were a reminder that Iraq remains a very dangerous place, though much improved. And just as the bright, prosperous future that many Iraqis dreamed of at the start of the US-led war in 2003 has yet to materialize, so too have many of the basic freedoms it was assumed would flow from regime change.

Iraqi journalists, in particular, are still struggling to report freely and safely about their nation, something that was brought home when Marwan Ibrahim, a longtime reporter for Agence France-Presse, was seriously injured in a roadside bomb attack in the northern city of Kirkuk this morning.

By one count, more than 340 journalists have been killed since the US-led invasion in 2003, and Iraq remains one of the most dangerous nations on earth to be a journalist, according to Freedom House.

Today death threats, targeted killings and bombed offices may no longer be as much a daily fact of life as they once were. But Iraqi journalists say that pressure and risks persist in other ways, under the increasingly authoritarian government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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