On Monday reports began to emerge of the brutal murder of a young Iraqi broadcast journalist known as Lolita.
It was reported on social media and in Arabic language sources that the presenter of Al Sumaria TV’s “Yasser Man” program had been stabbed to death at her Baghdad flat.
Images soon began circulating purporting to show the bloodied body of the presenter, whose real name was given as Liqa’ Saad.
On its Arabic-language site Russian state-funded RT network quoted an “anonymous security source” as saying “there were multiple stab wounds on different parts of her body”. The unidentified source also told RT that she had received threats before.
The news was also reported on the verified Facebook page “Anchor Women” (“Female Journalists Iraq” in Arabic).
Breaking. The program of murders continues in Baghdad. The killing of the dentist and TV presenter for AlSumaria channel, Lolita, who presents the program #Yasser Man!!!
However, other outlets quoted the Iraqi authorities as saying that the report had not yet been confirmed.
The assassination of Lolita, presenter of the program #Yasser Man at the hands of the shameless militias.
Source: Colleagues at Alsumaria channel
Brigadier General Saad Maan: Baghdad police have not yet issued any report on the killing of the TV presenter Lolita. The subject is under investigation.
One of Lolita's colleagues Al Sumaria, the journalist Bilal Safa al-Husseini, posted on Facebook yesterday evening saying that she had not been killed.
The story of the killing of the person called Lolita is a lie and false. The Interior Ministry should specify that this is an electronic crime. Anyone who is not sure of the news they share, when it could affect people's sense of security and not be accurate, should be held to account by the officials responsible for cyber crime, that is their role.
In a video another journalist, Yasser Sami, said that he did not know whether the news was true or not.
Adding to the confusion, a Facebook post claiming to be from Lolita herself, and suggesting that the news was incorrect, circulated widely online.
#Lolita denies the news of her killing and [says] the reason for the spread of this news is that some pages are searching for likes.
However the page that issue this statement is not verified, and has only 2,500 likes.
While it is not yet clear whether the news of this murder is true or not, it comes following a wave of killings in the Iraqi capital. Earlier this week a series of murders reportedly saw a number of doctors killed in the city, while local media reports suggest as many as 200 people have been kidnapped in Baghdad so far this year.
A young Iraqi actor, Karar Noshi, was murdered earlier this month, allegedly by a Shia militia. It was suggested that Noshi had been targeted because of his long blonde hair, which had drawn attention on social media. The same conservative militias have also been accused of involvement in her alleged murder.
Update, Tuesday evening: Lolita has issued a video saying that she is not dead and that the picture, while of her, was acted. See here for more details.