Two AP reporters were attacked in Khost, Afghanistan, last Friday by an Afghan police commander. Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, pictured above, Anja Niedringhaus died immediately from her wounds, while veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon was struck by three bullets. After surgery she was in stable condition. Gannon has since been flown back to Kabul, Afghanistan.
The two reporters were on assignment to cover the election of Afghanistan’s new president and provincial councils. With these looming elections, the Taliban had been stepping up its violent actions, noticeably increasing their attacks on civilians and foreigners. Most noticeable were the deaths of a Swedish journalist and an Afghan journalist working for a French news agency. But what makes the attack on Niedringhaus and Gannon striking, is that it was committed by an insider on the Afghan security force, and within one of their own “secure” bases.
Gannon (pictured above) and Niedringhaus were traveling with election workers in a protected convoy. The two AP reporters were in their own car, along with a translator and a TV news freelancer, who later bore witness to the shooting.
They had entered a heavily guarded district compound when Naqibullah, a unit commander, approached the car. Declaring “Allah Akbar!” (God is Great) he opened fire on the reporters in the backseat with his AK-47. Gannon was struck by bullets in the wrist and shoulder three times, while Niedringhaus sustained fatal injuries.
Naqibullah surrendered after opening fire and was arrested.
Many have lamented over the loss of Niedringhaus: the Afghan president, and most heartrendingly by the AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll:
“Anja was a vibrant, dynamic journalist well-loved for her insightful photographs, her warm heart and joy for life. We are heartbroken at her loss.”
Photos via: Associated Press