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Veteran AP journalist, Anja Niedringhaus, dies

A veteran Associated Press photographer was killed and an AP reporter was wounded on Friday when an Afghan policeman opened fire while they were sitting in their car in eastern Afghanistan.

Anja Niedringhaus, 48, an internationally acclaimed German photographer, was killed instantly, according to an AP Television News freelancer who witnessed the shooting.

Kathy Gannon, an AP correspondent who for many years was the news organization's Afghanistan bureau chief and currently is a special correspondent for the region, was shot twice and later underwent surgery. She was described as being in stable condition and talking to medical personnel.

"Anja and Kathy together have spent years in Afghanistan covering the conflict and the people there. 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," said AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, speaking in New York.

The attack came on the eve of nationwide elections in Afghanistan. The Taliban have vowed to disrupt Saturday's vote for a new president and provincial councils.

The two were traveling Friday in a convoy of election workers delivering ballots from the center of Khost city to the outskirts, in Tani district. The convoy was protected by Afghan security forces. They were in their own car with a translator and the AP freelancer.

According to the freelancer, they had arrived in the heavily guarded district compound shortly before the incident.

As they were sitting in the car waiting for the convoy to move, a unit commander named Naqibullah walked up to the car, yelled "Allahu Akbar" - God is Great - and opened fire on them in the back seat with his AK-47, the freelancer said. He then surrendered to the other police and was arrested.

Medical officials in Khost confirmed that Niedringhaus died.

In a memo to AP staff, AP President Gary Pruitt remembered Niedringhaus as "spirited, intrepid and fearless, with a raucous laugh that we will always remember."

"Anja is the 32nd AP staffer to give their life in pursuit of the news since AP was founded in 1846," he wrote. "This is a profession of the brave and the passionate, those committed to the mission of bringing to the world information that is fair, accurate and important. Anja Niedringhaus met that definition in every way."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his deep sadness over Niedringhaus' death and the wounding of Gannon.

"These two AP journalists had gone to Khost province to prepare reports about the presidential and provincial council elections," a statement from Karzai's office quoted him as saying. It added that Karzai instructed the interior minister and the Khost governor to assist the AP in every way possible.

Niedringhaus covered conflict zones including Kuwait, Iraq, Libya, Gaza and the West Bank during a 20-year stretch, beginning with the Balkans in the 1990s. She had traveled to Afghanistan numerous times since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Niedringhaus, who also covers sports events around the globe, has received numerous awards for her works.

She was part of an AP team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in breaking news photography for coverage of the war in Iraq, and was awarded the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women's Media Foundation. She joined the AP in 2002 and had since been based in Geneva, Switzerland. From 2006 to 2007, she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship in journalism at Harvard University.

Niedringhaus started her career as a freelance photographer for a local newspaper in her hometown in Hoexter, Germany at the age of 16. She worked for the European Press Photo Agency before joining the AP in 2002, based in Geneva. She had published two books.

Gannon, 60, is a Canadian journalist based in Islamabad who has covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for the AP since mid-1980s.

She is a former Edward R. Murrow Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the author of a book on the country, "I Is for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan."

After the attack, Gannon underwent surgery in Khost. The operation was described as successful and Gannon's condition was said to be stable.

In the run-up to Saturday's vote, Afghan security and electoral officials have vowed not to let the Taliban and other militant derail the elections while conceding it is impossible to prevent the Islamic militants from waging acts of violence.

The militants have also increasingly been targeting Westerners. In recent weeks, the Taliban also have claimed responsibility for attacks in the capital, Kabul, against a luxury hotel, a foreign guest house, a Swedish journalist and a Lebanese restaurant popular with foreigners.

The 51-year old Swedish reporter, Nils Horner, had worked for Swedish Radio since 2001 as a foreign correspondent. He was killed by a shot in the head as he was reporting on Afghanistan's election on a street in Kabul in early March. It was a rare assassination of a foreigner in the capital. An extremist Taliban splinter group later claimed responsibility for his death.

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walkingwolf April 04 2014 at 10:55 AM

when are these insane people going to realize the Koran does NOT condone killing of innocents and violence?....time to make a list of names and start dropping drone poop on them or just send in the big one and make a parking place for camels and donkeys

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1 reply
vtmilitia walkingwolf April 04 2014 at 11:02 AM

When you're illiterate and rely on somebody who can read to interpret you are very vulnerable to be used as a tool. The same thing happens here with those who have no knowledge of politics or current events.

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bernard476 April 04 2014 at 11:19 AM

I continue to hear from the pundits: "Islan does not advocate violence".

Where are they getting that propaganda from?

I supported our (USA) move into that country so many years past, even though I could see what happened to Russia when they attempted to control the situation.

We as a country (USA) need to learn to stay out of areas where we are not wanted and deal with
serious situations such as the Islamic revolutionaries in other stealthy methods. And...if we go into another country...lets learn NOT to Nation Build !!!

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kvave April 04 2014 at 10:17 AM

A Goat Herding Nation of warring Fiefdoms , and Dopelords , with little or no History of strong Formal Government , bordered by Nations that play BOTH sides of the fence....

Gee . No the only solution would have been to turn the Region into a parking lot , or militarize it for the next 70 Years .

Now that were pulling out , Al Queda will sweep right back in , and 10 Years of Sacrifice will be for Nada

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sonatchi April 04 2014 at 10:15 AM

"Anja Niedringhaus At War"
Regarding war in general:

No war is pretty
People are going to die
There’ll be blood on the hands
Of a man, woman and child

Blood in the liquid form
Or the scars on the mind
No war is pretty
People are going to die

The fighting of the battles
Is the middle of the fight
As opposed to the bargainings
Or the bombs in the night

Tanks and tanks and aero planes
Submarines on the seas
No war is pretty
Death for you and me

First go the brothers
Laying dead on the land
Mothers crying, sisters sighing
All of them wondering why

No war is pretty
Civil or another land

No war is pretty
Whose drone was that?

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1 reply
steelebook sonatchi April 04 2014 at 10:40 AM

"Laying" dead? I had thought that poets respected the language. . .

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oceanview136 April 04 2014 at 10:13 AM

These fanatics I believe, have a complete lack of respect for women, and a lack of respect for HUMAN LIFE ! This has been proven many times over by them sending "Suicide Bombers" to kill large groups of people.

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rexminervastar April 04 2014 at 10:12 AM

Another innocent victim that worked for information and peace...my condolences to her family,love ones and co-workers.
Killed by a police man really bugs me..here we are,in this country of Afghanistan ,trying to 'civilize 'them..and after 12 years ,it is the status/quo...Oh yes, I forgot, WE trained them and now turn they arms on us..I am so glad we are getting OUT of this unscrupulous and hypocritical corrupted country. Hamid .Karsai is probaby the most cynical man of all .
Well Karzai.. OUR BOYS are coming home..and good luck with your so called identity 'fighter of democrary'..you are going to need it and this time,no one will save your ......S!

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kambanks April 04 2014 at 10:08 AM

Let's take our troops and aid out of Afghanistan and let them live like they have for thousands of years.

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1 reply
jonathanzimmel kambanks April 04 2014 at 2:26 PM

thousands of years ago they didn't harbor, give safe haven or turn a blind eye to terrorists

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Buckingham's April 04 2014 at 11:37 AM

Those "people" in Afghanistan are ANIMALS who kill for the pleasure of killing, and we keep serving up AMERICANS as targets to these savages. We should turn the entire country into a radioactive wasteland to ensure we nail em all.

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Connie April 04 2014 at 11:40 AM

My sympathies to the loved ones of Anja and prayers to Kathy for a full recovery. This is so sad...it is time that foreigners leave these Countries alone . I would love to see peace to the region for the innocent people there, but I think it is impossible to change the culture there.

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redband April 04 2014 at 10:02 AM

I remember as a young boy my grandfather telling story's about his life in that part of the world. He told us young kids how the tribes were always fighting and killing each other. And how his father told him the same story's. We will never change anything over there as far as I can tell. only that our young men and women not coming back. You can't trust any one, they all lie. And I never heard were the Koran said that the people should kill. Believe me 500 years from now they will still be fighting there, it seems to be a way of life.

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