Shireen Abu Akleh: UN chief appalled at Al Jazeera reporter’s killing

UN Secretary General António Guterres says he is “appalled” by Wednesday’s killing of veteran Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

He also called for an independent investigation into her death.

Abu Akleh, 51, died while covering a raid by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. Her producer was injured.

Al Jazeera said Israeli troops “deliberately” shot her. Israel’s prime minister said it was “likely” she was shot by Palestinian gunmen.

The prime minister, Naftali Bennett, called for a joint post-mortem and investigation with the Palestinians, but on Thursday Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said the request had been refused.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he held the Israeli government fully responsible for what he described as a “crime of execution”.

In a statement issued via his spokesperson late on Wednesday, Mr Guterres called on “the relevant authorities to carry out an independent and transparent investigation into this incident and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

“The secretary-general condemns all attacks and killings of journalists and stresses that journalists must never be the target of violence,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter that Americans were “heartbroken to learn of the killing” of Abu Akleh and the injuries to her producer.

“We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends strongly condemn her killing,” Ms Psaki added, calling her a “reporting legend” who will be “mourned by all who knew her”.

Abu Akleh was widely known and widely admired – by viewers and colleagues alike.

Early on Wednesday morning, she went to the Jenin refugee camp to report on a raid by Israeli soldiers and security forces, which the Israeli military said was conducted to apprehend “terrorist suspects”.

“During the activity, tens of Palestinian gunmen fired at and hurled explosive devices toward the soldiers. The soldiers responded with fire toward the gunmen and hits were identified,” a military statement said.

The Palestinian health ministry said Abu Akleh was hit in the head by a live bullet during the raid. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later pronounced dead.

Another Palestinian journalist, Al Jazeera producer Ali Samoudi, was shot in the back and was in a stable condition in hospital, the health ministry added.

Al Jazeera cited Mr Samoudi as saying there was “no Palestinian military resistance” at the scene of the shooting.

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