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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.

Join the discussion

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tkilo2 April 04 2014 at 11:36 AM

There will come a time when the West has had enough and the terrorists will finally see what "HELL " on Earth really looks like !!!

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1 reply
markjamesmoore tkilo2 April 04 2014 at 12:07 PM

Soon I hope...

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Michyle April 04 2014 at 10:37 AM

Most Dictatorships (secular, military, political) fear the spread of information.
Afghanistan is about to go into meltdown, because NATO is getting out of Afghanistan.
Best for all civilians to pull out NOW!

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John April 04 2014 at 12:36 PM

Why do we keep trying to help these backward people? Just let them
go back to their 1500 lives and get the heck out of there. They seem to
want life so let them have it.

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1 reply
Bobby K John April 04 2014 at 12:38 PM


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thomasecw April 04 2014 at 10:36 AM

The so called "religion of peace" strikes again. I wonder if Bill Maher would consider the gunman "brave" as he turned his gun on unarmed women?

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Doc April 04 2014 at 10:23 AM


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jasnajanko801 April 04 2014 at 12:45 PM

Being a war journalist is one of the most dangerous jobs a person can have. I give a credit to all who have guts to accept this job and do it with a passion just the way she, and many others who have lost their lifes, did.
Without them, majority of the world would live in the dark without knowing of what's happening around us, especially in war thorn countries.
I came from one of those countries where without the journalists like Miss. Anja the rest of the world would have never known about the magnitude of genocide.
I offer my sincere thanks to all war journalists doing their job and risking their lifes.
Thank you and RIP Miss. Anja.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
Escalonz jasnajanko801 April 04 2014 at 1:06 PM

Being a war journalist is one of the most dangerous jobs a person can have................Even more than living in Chicago or Detroit?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
freudslip65 Escalonz April 04 2014 at 1:23 PM

Escalonz....sometimes it's simply just better NOT to think out loud.

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Susan Escalonz April 05 2014 at 1:38 AM

What is the matter with you?

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madcap.1 jasnajanko801 April 04 2014 at 2:52 PM

dont offer your thanks, if it is that important. grab a camera and go help your country men out.
i bet its not that important to you, is it ?

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1 reply
jasnajanko801 madcap.1 April 04 2014 at 4:02 PM

madcap.1....it's just so sad that people who are worth something have to die, and then people who are just a waste of oxygen are still alive. Like yourself for example.

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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?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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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msslongrider April 05 2014 at 6:36 AM

So sad but nothing will happen to the slimeball that did it cause they're all slimeballs but our great Obama led joke fest will keep sending them billions in aide!

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