News / Asia

    AP Photographer Killed, Reporter Wounded in Afghanistan

    FILE - Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus.
    FILE - Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus.
    An Afghan policeman shot two foreign, female journalists in eastern Afghanistan Friday, on the eve of historic presidential elections in Afghanistan. Attacks against local and international media trying to cover Saturday’s vote increase.
    The policeman opened fire on the two prize-winning international journalists as they covered the election process in the eastern province of Khost. Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus was killed, and Kathy Gannon, an award winning reporter for Associated Press, was wounded.

    Journalists Kathy Gannon and Anja Niedringhaus, were shot in Khost province, AfghanistanJournalists Kathy Gannon and Anja Niedringhaus, were shot in Khost province, Afghanistan
    Journalists Kathy Gannon and Anja Niedringhaus, were shot in Khost province, Afghanistan
    Journalists Kathy Gannon and Anja Niedringhaus, were shot in Khost province, Afghanistan
    Later the same day, in the same district, a bomb went off in a mosque that was to act as a polling station for Saturday's vote. Officials say two people were killed and four wounded in the blast.

    The Taliban has repeatedly threatened anyone seen as participating in the April 5 presidential and provincial council elections, and the militants have carried out a series of lethal bomb and gun attacks against reporters, election officials, police and government in the past three weeks.
    Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said the officer responsible for the mid-morning shooting of the journalists had been arrested and was being questioned.

    FILE - AP Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan Kathy Gannon sits with girls at a school in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Oct. 1, 2011.FILE - AP Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan Kathy Gannon sits with girls at a school in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Oct. 1, 2011.
    FILE - AP Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan Kathy Gannon sits with girls at a school in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Oct. 1, 2011.
    FILE - AP Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan Kathy Gannon sits with girls at a school in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Oct. 1, 2011.
    Provincial officials said Gannon was being treated for her wounds in a local hospital and was no longer in critical condition.

    A spokesman for the provincial governor told VOA the two reporters were inside a district police compound when they were attacked.  The two had been traveling in a convoy of Afghan election workers near Khost city, close to the militant strongholds of Pakistan’s North Waziristan.

    Both journalists were experienced reporters. Niedringhaus, a German photographer, who joined AP in 2002, won a Pulitzer in 2005 for her coverage of the Iraq war. Gannon, from Canada, has lived in Pakistan for years, and won a Courage in Journalism Award in 2002.
    Mobarez Mohammad Zadran, spokesman for the provincial governor, described the scene.
    He said that, today, Friday, around 10:45am, inside the Tanni district police headquarters, one of the district police officers, officer Naqibullah, fired an AK-47 at two foreign AP journalists, instantly killing a German journalist. Another female journalist from Canada was seriously wounded.”
    Zadran said the wounded journalist, Gannon, was taken to Khost hospital in serious condition.
    Zadran said although in the beginning there were fears that Gannon would not survive, the doctors' work was successful and her condition was improving. He said she was now out of danger.
    President Hamid Karzai in a statement released Friday said he was saddened by the attack, and sent his condolences to the families. Karzai said he has ordered the Interior Ministry and the provincial governor to use all their resources to help and evacuate Gannon.
    Khost governor Abdul Jabar Naimi has ordered an investigation into the incident to determine why the officer opened fire on the journalists. According to police officials, the shooter was not from Khost, but had been working in the district for a year.
    Speaking in New York, AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said both reporters had worked together for years covering the conflict in Afghanistan. According to an AP report, Carroll said the company was “heartbroken” at the loss of Niedringhaus.

    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."

    Friday’s killing was the third attack against journalists. On March 11, British-Swedish radio journalist Nils Horner was shot dead at point-blank range on the streets of Kabul. Nine days later, gunmen shot and killed Afghan reporter for Agence France Presse (AFP) Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of his three young children as they were having dinner in Kabul's heavily protected Serena Hotel.
    Afghans said they hoped this election, the first democratic transfer of power from one leader to another, would fortify the country’s political institutions. To ensure that, they said they would head to the polls Saturday despite the threats of violence.
    Fawzul, a young man standing with his friends next to a market stall in Kabul, was one of them.

    “I hope this election will bring changes, like paving the way for young generation to be educated, and to bring changes about economics, and well governing, and eliminating security threats,” he said.
    Some 300,000 security personnel, including army, police and air support, have spread out across the country to protect roughly 6,500 polling stations.

    Afghan media, as well as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, condemned Friday's attack on Niedringhaus and Gannon.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    April 05, 2014 3:47 AM
    We have great respect for those two journalists, One was killed why doing what she loves to do best, and the other was injured doing what shes loves to do best. We send our condolences to the victim family,We are very sorry for your lost. And also to journalist that was injured, we say to you get well soon. God bless your heart.

    by: Danka Niedringhaus from: Germany
    April 04, 2014 9:59 AM
    what does a brilliant Jewish girl do in Afghanistan??? I could never understand those Liberals...!!! what a terrible waste...
    In Response

    by: ali baba from: new york
    April 04, 2014 2:07 PM
    because she is a Jew , she deserve to die. Your words explained fully the concept of Islam. killing because the person adopted different religion is not acceptable.. Why you are living in Germany. go and live in cave in Afghanistan. . kidnapped a boy and sexually abused him . live in the mentality of stone age. do not beg for mercy from west for food and medicine. do not ask world vision or care to give a help .

    by: ali baba from: new york
    April 04, 2014 6:12 AM
    everyday we hear another victim of barbaric Afghanistan. it seems that the west never learn from its mistake. The ideology of Islam created people have no conscious and psychopath .Muslim believed that killing western ,christen and Jews will be rewarded in heaven with72 virgin. still our idiot politician gave them money ,food, educate them .We get our reward in earth by killing our children and make a party to celebrate the killing on innocent people. our lawyer politician has no clue to deal with these people.
    In Response

    by: ali baba from: new york
    April 09, 2014 2:52 PM
    I do not know what you believe. if believe that killing is wrong , unfortuenly ,many Muslim use the Quran to produce fatwa to kill. The Quran allows killing of unbeliever or infidel . the Quran urge Muslim to kill anyone covert from Islam
    In Response

    by: Khalid Mohammed from: Baghdad
    April 09, 2014 2:23 PM
    Muslim does not believe that killing western christian and Jews will be rewarded in heaven ! read the holy Quran before saying anything incorrect about Islam. I'm Muslim and I have worked with Anja for years we never asked about religions my condolences to her family and friends, God bless her.

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