Japanese Cameraman Killed Covering Thai Protests

By: Yuri Kageyama - AP Writer
By: Yuri Kageyama - AP Writer

TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese TV cameraman who worked for Reuters for more than 15 years was among those killed in a bloody clash in Thailand between anti-government protesters and soldiers.

Hiro Muramoto, 43, was shot Saturday while covering fighting in Bangkok, when Thai soldiers opened fire and sprayed tear gas to try to dislodge protesters from encampments in the capital.

Thailand's government said five soldiers and 13 civilians, including Muramoto, have died in the worst violence in Bangkok since more than four dozen people were killed in an antimilitary protest in 1992.

Muramoto, who was stationed in Tokyo but also went on overseas assignments, was married with two children, according to Thomson Reuters.

"Reuters is dreadfully saddened by the death of our colleague Hiro Muramoto," Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger said in a statement.

"Journalism can be a terribly dangerous profession for those being thrust into the center of the action. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Muramoto-san's family. All of us at Thomson Reuters mourn this terrible tragedy."

Last year, 71 journalists worldwide were killed in the line of duty, including 20 caught in crossfire or on dangerous assignment, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada sent a message to the Thai government, relaying his concerns about Muramoto's death and the continuing violence in Bangkok. The ministry also said it was investigating Muramoto's death.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday that it had received a message of condolence from the Thai government, which promised it was doing its best to bring the turmoil under control and ensure the safety of Japanese in Thailand.

Reuters Public Relations said the company was in contact with Thai authorities to determine what had happened. Reuters was accompanying members of Muramoto's family to Bangkok.

Details on funeral arrangements and on bringing his body to Japan were undecided. His family had no comment, Reuters said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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