Tuesday, June 15, 2004

So, a quick catch-up on what's been going on while I've been recovering from the jetlag.

Most horrifically is a Sunday Times report that Simon was chased for almost a mile by militants in Riyadh before he was killed by a shot to his head.

I haven't been into the office today and so haven't had a chance to independently verify this report, which just doesn't bear thinking about. The Times reports that it's suspected the attackers were tipped off, possibly by militant sympathisers within a ministry. This is something I suspected from the start.

There's slightly more hopeful news on Frank, though. He has regained consciousness and is showing some signs of improvement.

Meanwhile, two of the biggest beasts in the BBC News jungle have been putting forward their views on news safety.

John Simpson, writing in the Telegraph, says "the attack on them (Simon Cumbers and Frank Gardner) marks the moment at which journalists ceased to be regarded as onlookers and became, against their wishes and instincts, combatants instead."

Over at the Guardian, meanwhile, Jeremy Bowen raises fundamental questions about whether journalists should employ armed guards. I agree with Jeremy's conclusion, that "Even wearing flak jackets, we are still non-combatants. It is not much of a defence, but it is worth trying to hold on to that status, even though the threats that journalists face are multiplying. Sometimes the best protection is for people to know you are defenceless."