Marcello Palmisano, a news service cameraman for Italo pubcaster RAI for 23 years, was killed Feb. 9 by gunfire and a grenade blast while covering the Somalian conflict in Mogadishu. He was 55.
Palmisano was on assignment with RAI-2 news anchor Carmen Lasorella, with whom he had flown in from Nairobi the same morning. Accompanied by an armed escort of some 30 Somalians, the convoy was attacked not far from the airport. Lasorella sustained minor burn injuries when the jeep they were traveling in caught fire.
The bullets that killed Palmisano are believed by Lasorella to have been destined for an executive of the Somal Fruit Co., whose logo was prominently displayed on the jeep transporting the Italian troop.
Somal Fruit and its American-owned rival, Dole, both of which employ a security force of armed Somalian guards, have been locked in an ongoing struggle for control of the area’s banana export industry for some time. Both companies have denied involvement in the incident.
The cameraman’s death makes him the third RAI news team member killed while reporting from the region in the past year. RAI-3 news correspondent Ilaria Alpi and cameraman Miran Hrovatin were assassinated in Somalia on March 20,1994. Also in 1994, three other RAI journalists were killed while reporting from Bosnia.
Palmisano’s first assignments for RAI date back to the 1960s. He was hired as a news staffer in 1972, distinguishing himself over the years with footage shot from the front lines of several war zones. Along with Somalia, Palmisano covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Vietnam and Lebanon.
He is survived by his wife, Maria Cristina, and two children aged 5 and 13.