U.S.-funded Iraq TV station burns

No reports of staff casualties

The studios of TV station Al-Iraqiya were ransacked and torched during the violence that engulfed the southern Iraq oil city of Basra last week, although there were no reports of staff casualties.

Pentagon-funded TV station Al-Iraqiya is part of Iraqi Media Network, and it is often accused of being a mouthpiece of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The violence erupted after Maliki ordered his security forces to launch operations against the Mahdi Army militia of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Basra.

According to Paris-based media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, Mahdi Army militants also set fire to the home of Bashir Thaaban, an exec of Iraqi public radio in Kut, 110 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Reporters Without Borders, meanwhile, said that Ahmed Mahmud Hassan, a reporter for satcaster al-Sumariya, was arrested Sunday by the Iraqi authorities while covering clashes between Iraqi forces and insurgents at Mahmudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

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