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Luxembourg Tactics Criticized

Dave Price, All access
CBS/The Early Show
The tactics used to free 28 people held hostage by a gunman in Luxembourg came under fire Friday by the world's largest journalists organization.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists which represents more than 450,000 journalists worldwide, criticized the use of officers posing as a TV crew to lure the gunman into an ambush and end the hostage crisis.

When the gunman emerged for an "interview" Thursday holding a child in one arm and a grenade in the other, police posing as cameramen shot him twice in the head. The tactic led to rescue of 25 children and three adults who had been held hostage for about 30 hours.

"These are disturbing tactics," cautioned Aidan White, general secretary of the IFJ, which asked for an investigation into the police tactics. "Cameramen are always potential targets when filming in dangerous conditions. Incidents like this may put them even more at risk from trigger-happy criminals."

"Each year many journalists die reporting on incidents of violence…Their life is dangerous enough without adding to their difficulties," White said in a statement.

Luxembourg police defended their strategy, saying it minimized the threat to the hostages. Interior Minister Michel Wolters said the hostage-taker's demand for TV airtime gave police an opportunity to get a clear shot.

"He was very mistrustful…We were ready to do it (before) but he didn't come far enough out," Wolters said.

Northeastern University journalism professor Nicholas Daniloff said the tactic was "a case of deception, and journalists as a whole try not to be deceptive."

Still, Daniloff said the situation called for extreme measures. Since the hostages were freed unharmed and the hostage-taker arrested, Daniloff said he would be inclined to forgive this case.

"This was a question of saving lives," he said. "You can argue that the results justified what was done."

Hostage-taker Neji Bejaoui, an unemployed Tunisian immigrant, was shot at the day-care center in Wasserbillig, a village of 2,300 people in eastern Luxembourg.

Bejaoui was recovering from his injuries Friday after surgery, and police said his wounds were no longer life-threatening.

Authorities released details Friday about the 39-year-old gunman who brandished a pistol, a hand grenade and a knife as he seized his hostages Wednesday.

Bejaoui initially seized 37 children and the three teachers at the Sparrow's Nest daycare center Wednesday. He released eight children that day and then demanded a flight to take him to Libya.

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said police were forced to act when Bejaoui demanded to flee in a car with three children. In a statement, the government said the decision to act also came after Bejaoui brought crying children to the telephone, then refused to speak to police negotiators.

Police then set in the two officers disguised as journalists with Radio Television Luxembourg. Col. Pierre Reuland of the Luxembourg police said the force requisitioned cameras and other equipment from RTL.