Three journalists — including two Voice of America contributing reporters — who were covering a bomb blast in the Turkish town of Midyat were attacked by a group of local residents Wednesday.
VOA Turkish contributing reporter Mahmut Bozarslan said after the attack that he was shooting video of the aftermath of a car bombing when a group of people demanded that he stop rolling his camera. The crowd reportedly threw stones at him and broke his camera. Bozarslan was hospitalized with multiple injuries.
VOA Kurdish contributing reporter Hatice Kamer also was covering the bombing when she was asked by a group of people to stop filming. Kamer was attacked with rocks and sustained head injuries.
Kamer later told VOA that the attackers continued to beat her even after she fell to the ground. Bozarslan said despite police presence on the scene, journalists were not rescued from the angry crowd.
A Turkish Embassy official in Washington, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity, said: "Police forces in Midyat have done everything to protect the journalists. As it should be, Turkish security forces have acted responsibly and opened fire in the air to disperse the attackers. If they did not act responsibly, worse things could have happened. We feel sorry that journalists have been injured."
In a news release issued after the assault on the journalists, VOA Director Amanda Bennett criticized the attack.
"The attacks on Voice of America journalists are unacceptable," Bennett said. "We condemn the violence against our reporters. We demand that the Turkish government bring these attackers to justice and ensure the safety of all journalists working in Turkey. This intimidation will not deter VOA from its mission to report the truth."
The motive behind the attacks is not known, and no group has claimed responsibility.
As many as 30 people were injured in the explosion Wednesday in the town of Midyat in the Kurdish majority southeast Mardin province.