Gannon, left, and Niedringhaus in 2012. AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri.
The Associated Press says that an Afghan police commander opened fire with an AK-47 Friday on two AP journalists, killing Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon. Niedringhaus, a German who was 48, had covered conflicts from the Balkans to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. She died instantly, AP reports. Gannon, 60 and from Canada, for many years AP's Afghanistan bureau chief and now a special correspondent for the region, was shot three times in the wrists and shoulder. After surgery, she was in stable condition.
According to AP, the shooting was "part of a surge in violence targeting foreigners in the run-up to Saturday's presidential elections, a pivotal moment in Afghanistan's troubled recent history that promises to be the nation's first democratic transfer of power." The journalists were traveling with election workers in eastern Khost province in a convoy that was protected by Afghan soldiers and police officers. From AP:
Niedringhaus and Gannon had worked together repeatedly in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, covering the conflict from some of the most dangerous hotspots of the Taliban insurgency. They often focused on the war's impact on Afghan civilians, and they embedded several times with the Afghan police and military, reporting on the Afghan government's determination to build up its often ill-equipped forces to face the fight against militants.
Gannon, who had sources inside the Taliban leadership, was one of the few Western reporters allowed into Afghanistan during the militant group's rule in the 1990s....
The two journalists were traveling in a convoy of election workers delivering ballots in the eastern city of Khost, under the protection of Afghan security forces. They were in their own car with a translator and an AP Television News freelancer waiting for the convoy to move after arriving at the heavily guarded security forces base in eastern Afghanistan.
A unit commander identified by authorities as Naqibullah walked up to the car, yelled "Allahu Akbar" — God is Great — and fired on them in the back seat with his AK-47, said the freelance videographer, who witnessed the attack, which left the rear door of the car riddled with bullet holes. The officer then surrendered to the other police and was arrested.
Niedringhaus joined AP in 2002, and in 2005 was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for coverage of Iraq. In 2006-07, she studied at Harvard University under a Nieman Fellowship. She is the 32nd AP staffer to die while working, the wire said.
AP posted a tribute video of Anja Niedringhaus photos: