Associated Press photographer killed, reporter wounded in Afghanistan

Associated Press photographer killed, reporter wounded in Afghanistan

By Kevin Sieff | The Washington Post

KABUL — A photographer for the Associated Press was killed and a reporter was wounded on Friday when an Afghan police officer shot each of them multiple times.

The journalists were traveling with election workers in eastern Khost province in a convoy that was protected by Afghan soldiers and police officers, according to the AP.

Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a German photographer, was killed instantly. Kathy Gannon, a Canadian reporter, is in stable condition. Both were veterans with deep experience in the region.

“Anja and Kathy together have spent years in Afghanistan covering the conflict and the people there. Anja was a vibrant, dynamic journalist well-loved for her insightful photographs, her warm heart and joy for life. We are heartbroken at her loss,” AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said in a statement issued by the wire service.

Niedringhaus earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, as part of a team of AP photographers covering the Iraq War.

Violence has surged in the weeks before Saturday’s presidential election, and journalists have paid a high price. Last month, Swedish journalist Nils Horner was shot and killed while conducting interviews in Kabul. Then Sardar Ahmad, a reporter for Agence France-Presse, was killed with his wife and two children in an attack on Kabul’s Serena Hotel.

Over the last decade, journalists were not often targeted in Afghanistan, but that appears to be changing.

The man who shot Niedringhaus and Gannon was named Naqibullah, who goes by one name, described as a mid-level police officer. He had been transferred to Khost about three months ago, according to Sardar Abdul Makinzoi, a member of the provincial council.

According to the AP report, “Naqibullah walked up to the car, yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ — God is Great — and opened fire on them in the back seat with his AK-47.”

Makinzoi said the gunman had been a police officer for “a long time” but wasn’t sure how many years he had served.

The two journalists had arrived at the government headquarters of Tani district, where they were covering the delivery of ballots across the province.

The gunman was taken into custody, according to Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Gannon is being treated at an Afghan hospital in Khost, but the U.S. military is attempting to evacuate her, according to U.S. officials.

Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report

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