“A veteran Associated Press photographer was killed and an AP reporter was wounded on Friday when an Afghan policeman opened fire while they were sitting in their car in eastern Afghanistan,” the wire service reports.
Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a photographer who in 2005 was part of an AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the war in Iraq, died instantly, according to an AP Television freelancer who saw the attack.
The reporter, Kathy Gannon, “was wounded twice and is receiving medical attention. Gannon, 60, was described as being in stable condition and talking to medical personnel,” the AP says.
According to the news service:
“The two were traveling in a convoy of election workers delivering ballots from the center of Khost city to the outskirts, in Tani district. The convoy was protected by the Afghan National Army and Afghan police. They were in their own car with a freelancer and a driver. …
“As they were sitting in the car waiting for the convoy to move, a unit commander named 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. He then surrendered to the other police and was arrested.”
From Kabul, NPR’s Sean Carberry reports that the car the journalists were in was “surrounded by Afghan army and police security” when the gunman shot them.
In a memo to AP staff, AP President Gary Pruitt remembered Niedringhaus as “spirited, intrepid and fearless, with a raucous laugh that we will always remember.”
“Anja is the 32nd AP staffer to give their life in pursuit of the news since AP was founded in 1846,” he wrote. “This is a profession of the brave and the passionate, those committed to the mission of bringing to the world information that is fair, accurate and important. Anja Niedringhaus met that definition in every way.”
Last November, The Atlantic‘s In Focus blog posted a collection of her photos: “Afghanistan: Seen Through the Lens of Anja Niedringhaus.”
In Focus wrote that:
“Documenting a decades-long story like the Afghanistan War is a challenge for any photojournalist, from simple logistical issues, to serious safety concerns, to the difficulty of keeping the narrative fresh and compelling. Niedringhaus has done a remarkable job, telling people’s stories with a strong, consistent voice, an amazing eye for light and composition, and a level of compassion that clearly shows through her images.”
Reuters reminds readers that “the attack took place on the eve of a presidential election that Taliban insurgents have pledged to disrupt through a campaign of bombings and assassinations. … Last month, a prominent Afghan journalist with the Agence France-Presse news agency was killed alongside eight other people when Taliban gunmen opened fire inside a heavily fortified luxury hotel in the centre of the capital, Kabul.”