NEW YORK (AP) Gunfire erupted between Iraqi forces and a guard hired to protect a CNN crew, a development that made one media commentator worry about the risks of having journalists protected by armed escorts.
Correspondent Brent Sadler was driving through Tikrit, one of the last strongholds of Saddam Hussein loyalists, in a seven-vehicle CNN convoy Sunday when they decided to leave because they could feel 'hostility
rising,' he said.
They were fired upon with automatic weapons while just outside of Tikrit, he said. An Iraqi Kurd guard traveling with the CNN crew returned fire as the vehicles sped away.
The gunfight involving Sadler's guard was believed to be the first time armed protectors of a CNN crew had to use a weapon.
Most journalists adhere to Geneva Conventions rules that reporters not openly carry weapons in war zones, although several news organizations have hired armed
guards for protection in dangerous areas.
CNN repeatedly ran video of the incident on Sunday that showed the roadside passing by from the car's perspective, then the sound of rapid-fire guns and the camera being pointed to the sky as its operator ducked for cover.
'These shots weren't intended to scare us,' Sadler later said. 'They were intended to kill us.'
The guard was grazed by a bullet, said Matthew Furman, CNN spokesman. A CNN producer was hit by shattered glass.
CNN noted that Sadler was in a convoy clearly marked as containing journalists and that the Iraqis fired first. In a dangerous place for reporters, CNN supports what its guard did, Furman said.
It was the second harrowing experience for a CNN correspondent near Tikrit in three days.
On Friday, correspondent Kevin Sites and his crew were held captive
for several hours by Iraqi Fedayeen at a checkpoint.
Sites and his crew were accused of being American spies and threatened with death. His hands were bound behind his back and an AK-47 round fired at his feet. They were released after negotiations between the crew's translator and village elders, he said.