Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus was shot and killed today, April 4, 2014, while traveling in a protected convoy with election workers. Niedringhaus was killed when a mid-level Afghanistan policeman walked up to the car and shot the journalist with an AK-47. Also in the car and shot was Kathy Gannon, a veteran Associated Press reporter and special correspondent. Gannon was shot twice but appears to be in stable condition after receiving medical attention.
Kathleen Carroll, AP Executive Editor, said that both women have spent years in Afghanistan reporting on the people and the conflicts. She describes Niedringhaus as a well-loved, dynamic and vibrant journalist whose photographs were insightful. The convoy was traveling through the small remote town, Khost, near the Pakistan border. An Afghan police officer who was transferred to Khost approximately three months ago simply walked up to the car, yelled and opened fire into the backseat. According to the spokesman for the provincial governor, Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, the officer was placed in custody after the incident.
Currently, special correspondent Gannon is being cared for at an Afghan hospital in Khost, in the same vicinity of the shooting. Attempts are being made by the U.S. military to evacuate her. The attack happened as the convoy was waiting to move through a security compound. A suggestion that the shot might have occurred as a case of mistaken identity has been made and that policemen were unaware that the journalists were in that specific Afghanistan area.
Anja Niedringhaus, the German photojournalist shot and killed today, had also worked in Kuwait, Turkey, the Gaza Strip and Yugoslavia. She worked as part of a team which won a 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Iraq coverage. She also was awarded the Courage in Journalism prize from the International Women’s Media Foundation in 2005. Covering such historic events such as the collapse of the Berlin Wall, she had been a freelance photographer since the age of 17 and still in high school.
In 1990, Niedringhaus began work with the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) as a full-time photojournalist. She became the chief photographer for EPA and spent a number of years covering war action in Yugoslavia. She documented the aftereffects of 9/11 before traveling to cover the fall of the Taliban. In 2002, she joined Associated Press and traveled extensively. In addition to the 2005 awards, she won Harvard University’s Nieman fellowship in 2006. Her work is in numerous museums and galleries including Germany’s Museum of Modern Art.
The attack which killed Niedringhaus and wounded Gannon came while the pair was covering the upcoming presidential election in which eight candidates are vying for the presidency. According to reports, Taliban insurgents have pledged to disrupt the campaign with both assassinations and bombings. There have been almost 200,000 troops positioned to prevent attacks and restrictions have been placed on reporters. Each polling center has security rings in place with hundreds of troops. While the police forces and troops are deployed to keep the peace, attacks on reporters have escalated. Gannon and Niedringhaus are the latest in a number of journalists which have been shot or attacked by policemen or others in Afghanistan.
By Dee Mueller
on twitter @TuesdayDG