DAMASCUS, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Syrian pro-government al- Ekhbariya TV announced Monday that its photographer Hatem Abu Yahia, who was kidnapped three days ago along with three other mates, was killed.
A video footage posted on YouTube showed three of the kidnapped employees announcing the death of their colleague and claiming that he was killed during the government's shelling of Damascus' suburbs of al-Tal, where the four were kidnapped Friday.
Abducting and assassinating pro-government journalists have become common in Syria, making it harder for them to cover events at hot areas.
The Syrian government claimed Saturday that an "armed terrorist group" assassinated Ali Abbas, a journalist who works for the state news agency SANA, at his residence in Jdaidet Artouz area in the Damascus suburb.
On Aug. 4, al-Nusra Front, a shadowy group that claims responsibility for a number of suicide attacks in Syria over the past 17 months, claimed responsibility for the killing of a famous Syrian broadcaster, Mohammad al-Said, who was kidnapped from near his house in Jdaidet Artouz by an armed group on July 20.
"Armed terrorist groups" were also blamed by the government for two bomb attacks on Syrian TV and Radio Building in Damascus last week and on al-Ekhbariya TV building in Damascus suburb on June 27 that resulted in the killing of three journalists and four guards in addition to huge material damage.
As violence is rolling in, the Syrian government and opposition parties have traded barbs of falsifying facts through their own media outlets.
Thus it is not unusual to see pro-government TV channels dedicating quite a good portion of their programs to refute allegations made by the opposition activists and some Arab and foreign TV channels that support them. The same applies to the opposition.
However, matters have lately taken an upward and more serious trend when accusations and counter-accusations have turned into murder, kidnapping and assassinations.
A Syrian press organization said recently 39 journalists and cameramen have been killed since the outbreak of protests in Syria.
The Association of Journalists has also documented the murder of six journalists in July, five of them in central Homs province and the sixth in Aleppo city in northern Syria.
The development came at a time when the Syrian security forces allegedly continue the apprehension of journalist-activists, prompting the New York-based International Committee to Protect Journalists to plead with the government to release no less than 13 journalists held in Syrian jails.
Babacar Gaye, head of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria, condemned recent attacks on Syrian journalists, saying that "we condemn violence against the media coming from any of the sides."