Afghan officials say a policeman has shot two foreign female journalists, killing one and wounding the other on the eve of the country's presidential election.
The dead journalist is identified as 48-year-old Anja Niedringhaus, an award-winning German photographer who was working for the Associated Press. AP reporter Kathy Gannon was in stable condition after being wounded twice.
Authorities say the police officer was arrested following the incident inside a heavily-guarded district compound in a remote part of the eastern province of Khost.
The Associated Press says the two journalists were with a convoy of election workers delivering ballots from the center of Khost city to the outskirts when they were attacked. As they were sitting in their vehicle inside the compound in Tanai district, a unit commander walked up to their car, yelled "Allahu Akbar" or God is Great and opened fire on them with his AK-47.
Niedringhaus was killed instantly and the AP says Gannon has undergone surgery and is said to be in stable condition.
AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said in New York "Anja and Kathy together have spent years in Afghanistan covering the conflict and the people there." She added, "Anja was a vibrant, dynamic journalist well-loved for her insightful photographs, her warm heart and her joy for life. We are heartbroken at her loss."
Niedringhaus had received numerous awards for her work. Gannon is a Canadian reporter based in Islamabad.
It was the third deadly attack against journalists in the past three weeks as violence has increased in the run-up to Saturday's national and local elections.
The Taliban has vowed to disrupt Saturday's presidential and provincial council vote.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was grieved by the incident and ordered a full investigation.
The United Nations, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists all condemned the attack and expressed their condolences. Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said the shooting highlights the "permanent and ubiquitous danger" for reporters in some regions of Afghanistan and called on authorities "to do everything possible to guarantee the safety of journalists, whose role is crucial at the height of the electoral process."
On March 11, British-Swedish radio journalist Nils Horner was shot and killed at point-blank range on the streets of Kabul. Nine days later, gunmen shot and killed Afghan reporter for the French News agency Sardar Ahmad, as well as his wife and two of his three young children in Kabul's heavily protected Serena Hotel.
On Thursday, Jan Kubis, the United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, urged Afghan citizens not to let anyone deprive them of their right to vote.
Kubis said there might be difficulties and security problems, but Afghanistan is much better prepared for Saturday's election than it was in 2009.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for recent election-related violence, including Tuesday's suicide bombing outside the Afghan Interior Ministry, killing at least six police officers