to be alive in government captivity, the freelance photographer was shot
by forces loyal to Qaddafi over six weeks ago
Supporters gather in Johannesburg for a May 3 rally for Anton Hammerl's release from Libya. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Freelance photographer Anton Lazarus Hammerl, a South African who also held Austrian citizenship, was killed in Libya on April 5, his family has just learned. Hammerl was traveling with three other journalists outside of Brega when the group was attacked by government troops, who shot and killed him. Until this evening, when Hammerl's family announced his death in a post to the Facebook group "Free photographer Anton Hammerl," he was believed to be alive and detained by the Libyan government.
Upon crossing the border into Tunisia on Thursday, the other journalists communicated the news of Hammerl's death to his family through an intermediary. Clare Morgana Gillis, who contributes to The Atlantic and USA Today; James Foley of GlobalPost; and Spanish photographer Manuel Brabo were all with Hammerl when he was killed.
"It all happened in a split second. We thought we were in the crossfire. But, eventually, we realized they were shooting at us. You could see and hear the bullets hitting the ground near us," Foley told GlobalPost. The four reporters, who had been driven to a desert crossroads by rebel troops, were forced to flee on foot because the rebels had driven off without them. They were running from troops loyal to Muammar Qaddafi when Hammerl was shot in the abdomen and fell. "I thought instinctively that we were all going to get killed, so I jumped up to surrender and screamed that we were journalists," Foley said.