Forces suspected of ties to the authorities completely destroyed and burnt down Iraqi Kurdistan ’s first private Television Station, Nalia Radio and Television, NRT.
Around 50 armed individuals masked and in dark uniform stormed the gate of a residential community, the German Village, in the early hours of the morning of February 19th, in Sulemaniya.
The gunmen forced their way to the headquarters of NRT inside the compound, and attacked the facility, by first shooting at the essential broadcast equipment and ultimately burning down the three-storey building with all its studios and other equipment. The entire headquarter of the station is now reduced to ash.
The gunmen, who wounded one of NRT’s guards, subsequently left the compound and left behind them a trail of blood pointing in the direction of Dabashan Hill, where the residence of President Jalal Talabani is in Sulaimaniya.
The blood trail was created when one of the attackers was wounded as the guards fired at them when they were trying to enter the compound by force.
NRT’s cameras recorded the blood trail all the way to Dabashan Hill near President Talabani’s house in Sulaymania.
The gunmen who conducted the operation in a very professional manner also left behind a partly-burnt green army glove with blood stains on the location.
The building now is yellow-taped for investigation.
The owner of the station, Shaswar Abdulwahid, says that he received a number of threatening remarks from senior politicians of the city and was asked to stop broadcasting. NRT reported the threats and later he was reassured by others like the KRG PM, Barham Salih, and PUK deputy secretary-general, Kosrat Rasul, not to worry and continue broadcasting.
According to Twana Osman, the General Manager of NRT, said that
“this attack is not only against NRT. It is a crime against the general public of Kurdistan and their right to know exactly what is happening.” He added that this is “a dangerous attempt to hide the truth, keep the public ignorant and obstruct and intimidate independent media”.
He also held the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the main ruling party in Sulaymaniah, responsible for the crime until the perpetrators are found and brought to justice.
NRT is the first private television station to start broadcasting in Iraqi Kurdistan. It started broadcasting on 17th of February, and covered the demonstrations in Sulaymania.
The station broadcasted exclusive footage of opening of fire against the demonstrators during the demonstrations of Sulaymaniyah.
The destruction of the station comes at a time when all the other satellite TV channels are unable to provide a balanced coverage of the events of Sulaymaniyah.
For Further information please contact NRT on: +964 (0) 7701537478.