The attack took place on the eve of a presidential election that
Taliban insurgents have pledged to disrupt through a campaign of
bombings and assassinations.
The AP said photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, had been killed and
reporter Kathy Gannon, 60, wounded while they were sitting in their
Niedringhaus, an internationally acclaimed German photographer, was
killed instantly, according to an AP Television freelancer who
witnessed the shooting.
Canadian reporter Kathy Gannon, who is based in Islamabad and has
covered war and unrest in Afghanistan for 30 years, was wounded
twice and was receiving medical attention, the AP said.
She was described as being in stable condition and talking to
medical personnel, it said.
"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," AP Executive
Editor Kathleen Carroll, speaking in New York, told the agency.
The two journalists were in a remote small town on Afghanistan's
border with Pakistan when the attack took place.
Taliban attacks on security forces and civilians have been on the
rise since the start of the year ahead of Saturday's vote when
Afghans will elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai who is
barred by the constitution from running again.
The assault on the AP journalists came just weeks after an Afghan
journalist with the Agence France-Presse news agency was killed
alongside eight other people when Taliban gunmen opened fire inside
a luxury hotel in the center of the capital, Kabul.
Also in March, a gunman shot dead Swedish journalist Nils Horner,
51, outside a restaurant in Kabul.
SHOT BY POLICE
The AP said Niedringhaus and Gannon were travelling in a convoy of
election workers delivering ballots from the center of Khost city to
the outskirts, in Tani district.
The area borders Pakistan's lawless North Waziristan region where
many al Qaeda- and Taliban-linked militants are based.
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The two had arrived in a heavily guarded district compound shortly
before the attack. As they were sitting in the car waiting for the
convoy to move, a unit commander walked up to the car, yelled
"Allahu Akbar" — God is Great — and opened fire on them with his
AK-47, the AP said.
He then surrendered to the other police and was arrested.
Word of Niedringhaus's death interrupted a U.N. briefing in Geneva,
where she was based. A former colleague proposed a minute of
silence, and several of her friends paid tearful tributes.
"She was supposed to be ironclad. This just seems so incredibly
wrong," said Jonathan Fowler, a correspondent at AFP who previously
worked with Niedringhaus at the AP.
Claire Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Office in
Geneva and a former AP colleague of Niedringhaus, said she had been
"She used to shrug it off and get on with life. She was very
affected by the recent death of an AFP journalist who was shot with
a couple of his children and his wife in Afghanistan," she told the
"She was just the ultimate professional. She was a very, very dear
friend. We would go swimming in the lake in summer. We would go to
Bains de Paquis sauna in the winter. I will miss her dearly as will
AP and the whole photographic world.
"She was very modest. She had a string of awards and she was very
modest about it."
(Reporting by Ilyas Wahdat; additional reporting by Tom Miles in
Geneva; writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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