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Embedded British reporter killed by roadside bomb, photographer injured

Rupert Hamer, the London-based Sunday Mirror’s defence correspondent, was killed Saturday when the US military vehicle in which he was travelling was hit by a roadside bomb in southwestern Afghanistan. Photographer Philip Coburn was seriously injured in the blast.

Hamer, a 39-year-old father of three, and Coburn, 43 were embedded with a US Marine Corps unit. A US marine and an Afghan soldier were also killed by the explosion, near the town of Nawa in Helmand province, while four US marines were injured.

“The resurgence of violence in which journalists are among the victims poses one of the main dangers for the media in Afghanistan,” Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “Hamer’s tragic death serves as reminder that journalists risk their lives every day to report the news. It also highlights the fact that, despite the danger, being ‘embedded’ has become one of the only ways to cover the war in Afghanistan from close up.”

It added, “Yesterday’s tragedy comes just 10 days after Michelle Lang, a 34-year-old reporter for the Calgary Herald, died in similar circumstances. Lang, who was embedded with the Canadian military, was killed when the military vehicle she was in was hit by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. A grim pattern is being set.”

“It is clear the nature of this conflict presents great danger to everyone who covers it, no matter which side they embed with or whether they try to cover it unilaterally,” said Bob Dietz, Asia programme coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “We fear that there will be more danger to journalists as the US military increases its offensive.”

There were many reactions to the death of Hamer, who according to the British authorities was the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan. Both British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and defence secretary Bob Ainsworth (who had been accompanied by Hamer during his most recent visit to Afghanistan) paid tribute him and Coburn, citing their professionalism, courage and dedication.

A total of 12 foreign journalists and eight Afghan journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.

Date posted: January 11, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 138