An Afghan police officer opened fire on two veteran Associated Press journalists, killing photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, and wounding reporter Kathy Gannon, while the two were in their car. The AP offers more details on the attack:
The two were traveling 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 the Afghan National Army and Afghan police. They were in their own car with a freelancer and a driver. 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. He then surrendered to the other police and was arrested.
Gannon was reportedly shot twice in the arm and is receiving treatment. Local doctors say she is in stable condition.
AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll offered a statement on the incident, saying:
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.
In a memo to staff, AP President Gary Pruitt called award-winning Niedringhaus "spirited, intrepid and fearless, with a raucous laugh that we will always remember," adding that she is the 32nd AP journalist to have been killed on the job in the AP's 168-year history. The relatively low figure belies a spike in violence against foreign journalists of late — just last month, two other journalists were killed in Afghanistan.
The attack came as security is upped in Afghanistan ahead of Saturday's presidential elections. Tensions are high in the region as security personnel prepare for attacks by the Taliban, which has promised to disrupt the vote. The group has denied responsibility for this attack.
Fellow journalists mourned the loss of Niedringhaus and recalled her impressive body of work on Twitter:
Profoundly shocking news about the death of AP's Anja Niedringhaus, her work was hugely respected at AFP where she had many friends— Philip Chetwynd (@philchet) April 4, 2014