Climate of fear but journalists insist they will remain in Baghdad

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The Independent Online

The BBC, CNN, Sky, Reuters and the Associated Press all said they had no plans to withdraw correspondents, despite the attack on a location once regarded as a media safe house.

A spokesman for the BBC, which has two correspondents in Baghdad, said: "The BBC will continue to report from Baghdad. Clearly the health of reporters is paramount. Our safety arrangements are constantly under review but we have no plans to pull out."

Three journalists from the Associated Press, whose Baghdad bureau is based in the Palestine Hotel, sustained minor injuries in the blast. Asked whether the news organisation would review its coverage of Baghdad, a spokesman for AP said: "We wouldn't even talk about that."

A spokeswoman for CNN said: "We have been reporting extensively on the explosions near the Palestine Hotel and have no plans to leave Baghdad. CNN continuously evaluates safety issues in all aspects of its reporting and clearly we will continue to do so."

A Reuters spokeswoman said that the news agency had moved out of the Palestine Hotel 18 months ago to a compound a few streets away.

"The blast was heard in the bureau and some shrapnel landed in the courtyard area, but no one was injured," the spokeswoman said. She added: "We have to learn what we can from every incident, but we don't have any plans to pull out. We remain committed to reporting the story for as long as possible."

Sky News and ITN said they do not currently have any journalists in Iraq. The Guardian, following the abduction and subsequent release of its reporter Rory Carroll in Baghdad last week, has withdrawn all staff from the Iraqi capital pending a review of its coverage of the situation, a spokesman for the newspaper said.

Last week, The Independent's veteran correspondent Robert Fisk said the situation in Baghdad had become so dangerous that he could only spend 10 minutes at a scene before local gunmen would appear and threaten him.

The Palestine Hotel was the main base for foreign journalists during the Iraq war and many media organisations have remained there.

At the height of the conflict, on 8 April 2003, the hotel was the subject of an attack by the American army that killed two journalists - the Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk and Jose Couso of the Spanish television station Telecinco.