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Praise Pours In for Journalists Slain in Afghan Taliban Rocket Attack

  • VOA News

NPR's David Gilkey is seen on assignment in an photo posted May 17, 2016, by a colleague on Twitter (via @MEvstatieva).

NPR's David Gilkey is seen on assignment in an photo posted May 17, 2016, by a colleague on Twitter (via @MEvstatieva).

Tributes poured in Monday for veteran journalists David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tammana, an American reporter and an Afghan translator reporter killed Sunday in Afghanistan when their vehicle came under Taliban rocket fire.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, writing on Twitter, condemned the attack as "cowardly," and described Tammana and Gilkey as journalists "on the front line to report about the truth."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul and Gen. John Nicholson, commander of NATO's Allied Land Command, also offered condolences, along with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who described the duo in a statement as "intrepid journalists."

Gilkey, Tammana and two Afghan soldiers were killed while riding in a vehicle that authorities say came under sustained Taliban fire just outside an army base in the Helmand provincial town of Marjah. The town and surrounding agricultural region are considered Taliban strongholds and the center of the country's opium poppy production.

Watch related video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke:

The 50-year-old Gilkey, on assignment for the U.S.-based National Public Radio, was an award-winning photographer and video editor. NPR described him as one of the first unescorted journalists to enter Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

He also covered the 2008-2009 conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, known widely as the Gaza War, as well as the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in early 2010.

Afghan media described 38-year-old Tammana as a native of northern Afghanistan who lived In Kabul with his wife and three children.

The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists says 24 journalists and one media worker have been killed since the U.S. response in October 2001 to the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks on the United States. Those numbers do not include Gilkey or Tammana.