Tributes poured in for the war correspondent Shifa Gardi of the Rudaw Kurdish media network, who was killed by an Isis roadside bomb in Mosul on 25 February.

Headquartered in the Erbil governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Rudaw newsroom honoured the memory of their colleague, laying flowers and lighting candles on the desk where she worked. A memorial service was carried out on 26 February, with a Kurdish flag wrapping her grave.

A 30-year-old TV reporter, Gardi was the first journalist killed while covering the Mosul offensive. She was reporting from the western part of Mosul, where the Iraqi army, with the support of the US-led coalition and Shia militias, have launched a fresh offensive to liberate Iraq's second city from Isis control.

The journalist was interviewing Shia commander Hashd al-Shaabi near a sinkhole reported to be a mass grave where Isis dumped the bodies of the people they had killed.

According to eyewitness reports quoted in Rudaw, the commander's feet got tangled in a wire, detonating the bomb that killed Gardi, the commander and four other fighters. Cameraman Younis Mustafa and seven fighters were wounded.

Gardi, whose real name is Shifa Zikri Ibrahim, was born a refugee in Iran. She started working in the media in 2006, and was a veteran at Rudaw Media Network. The journalist had rescued a badly malnourished rabbit from a village south of Mosul, Abu Saif which was liberated by the Iraqi forces on 21 February as they advanced towards the airport.

In a statement in the memory of one their "most daring" journalists, Rudaw executive director Ako Mohamm said: "We lost a very talented person. Shifa was not only a smart journalist, but also a very serious and loyal person".

Rudaw newsroom mourns Shifa Gardi
A portrait of Shifa Gardi, an Iraqi female journalist for Kurdish network Rudaw who was killed while covering the Mosul offensive, at the Rudaw media group's offices Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

He added that the network had told its reporters to stay behind the frontlines. "We were always urging them to be behind the frontlines of the war, telling them that they were not soldiers or Peshmerga fighters. Rather, you are journalists. Hence, you shouldn't be on the frontlines. It appears that Shifa had moved closer to the frontlines out of seriousness to her job. We are saddened by the passing of Shifa. Her place will remain irreplaceable in Rudaw, but she will always stay in our hearts."

In a statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) noted that Iraq has been the deadliest country for journalists since the organisation first began keeping records in 1992. "Shifa Gardi's tragic death underscores the continuing risk that journalists in Iraq face while doing their jobs," deputy executive director Robert Mahoney said.

"Journalists covering Iraq, and particularly those covering the ongoing conflict between the Iraqi government and the Islamic State group, have shown remarkable bravery and commitment to their work, and all sides in the conflict should honour that commitment by ensuring that they can do their jobs safely," he added.

According to CPJ, Gardi's death is the first recorded case of a journalist's killing in 2017. The organisation recorded six confirmed deaths of journalists in Iraq in 2016.