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German photographer shot dead by policeman in Afghanistan

A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the Associated Press was killed and a reporter from the news agency was wounded by a police officer in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, according to news reports.

Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a photographer who had covered numerous conflicts, and Kathy Gannon, 60, the reporter, were shot in Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan, where they had traveled to cover preparations for the country’s presidential election on Saturday, the New York Times reported.

Niedringhaus died instantly, while Gannon is in stable condition, the AP said. International and Afghan journalists have come under increasing attack in recent weeks. On March 11, Swedish journalist Nils Horner was shot at point-blank range while reporting in an upscale neighborhood in Kabul. On March 21, four gunmen stormed into a five-star Kabul hotel and opened fire in the crowded restaurant, killing Afghan journalist Sardar Ahmad.

As Niedringhaus and Gannon waited outside a government compound, a police commander walked up to their idling car, looked in at the two women in the back seat, and then shouted “Allahu akbar!” — God is great — and opened fire with an AK-47, witnesses and the Associated Press said.

"The loss of Anja Niedringhaus and the serious injuries to Kathy Gannon in Khost while covering preparations for elections reflect the heightened dangers of reporting from Afghanistan," said Bob Dietz, Asia programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "Both women, widely experienced in conflict zones, are recognized for their decades of fearless reporting. As pre-election violence mounts, Afghanistan has become a dangerous assignment on par with the height of the Iraq war or the current situation in Syria."

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to Anja Niedringhaus’s family and friends,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “The shooting has highlighted the permanent and ubiquitous danger for reporters in some regions of Afghanistan.

“It is all the more shocking for apparently being the work of a policeman who should have been protecting Afghan and foreign journalists. We call on the authorities to do everything possible to guarantee the safety of journalists, whose role is crucial at the height of the electoral process.”

Ismaïl added: “By imposing a climate of terror, armed groups such as the Taliban, the Haqqani network and Al-Qaeda are trying to get as many observers as possible to flee and to force the closure of large numbers of polling stations – all this in order to undermine the presidential election’s legitimacy.”

Date posted: April 5, 2014 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 22