Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Afghan cop shoots two AP journalists, one a Canadian

Kathy Gannon, 60, an Associated Press correspondent who had covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for about three decades, and AP photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, 48, were out covering a routine story on Afghanistan’s elections.

But in Afghanistan, nothing is routine. Death and violence can rear themselves out of nowhere.

And as a result, Niedringhaus is dead and Gannon is recovering in hospital from gunshot wounds.

They were in Khost, located in eastern Afghanistan, sitting in the back of a car that was itself located in a compounded heavily guarded by Afghan soldiers and police.

For reasons as yet unknown, a police officer named Naqibullah (he only goes by one name) walked back to their car, yelled Allahu Akbar! (God is Great!), raised an AK-47 and started shooting at the two journalists. He then dropped his weapon and surrendered to other police, who arrested him.

Niedringhaus died instantly. Two bullets struck Gannon, who was last reported to be in stable condition.

From the BBC: (contains links to galleries of Niedringhaus’s work)

“Anja and Kathy together have spent years in Afghanistan covering the conflict and the people there,” said AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll.

“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.”

Rings of security

President Karzai expressed his sadness at the incident and pledged to carry out a full investigation.

Interior ministry spokesman Sidiq Siddiqi says it may have been a case of mistaken identity

The interior ministry said the officer who shot the women had commanded a police unit, which had been under 48 hours of mortar attack from insurgents across the border in Pakistan.

He may have mistakenly thought the car was carrying insurgents as the police were unaware that the journalists were travelling in the area, interior ministry spokesman Sidiq Siddiqi said.

Gannon a Canadian

Kathy Gannon was born in the northern Ontario town of Timmins.

From the Globe and Mail:

She has a reputation of being unfailingly generous, sharing contacts and advice with her less experienced colleagues even though they sometimes ranked as competition. …

“Kathy is a legend among journalists,” said Graeme Smith, a former Globe and Mail correspondent and now an analyst with the International Crisis Group in Kabul. “She braved terrifying dangers in her decades of work, but this assignment should not have been excessively risky because she was guarded by Afghan security forces. That kind of ‘insider’ threat is hard to predict,” he said. …

Canadian journalists covering the country’s military operations typically based themselves at Kandahar Airfield and rarely ventured off base. Ms. Gannon, by contrast, travelled extensively throughout the country with enthusiasm. She was often drawn to stories about Afghan women who challenged the conventions of their conservative society. She is a fearless reporter, conducting interviews in Kandahar City without wearing a headscarf, as other female journalists do.

Gannon authored a book, 2005’s I is for Infidel, From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan.

Fri, April 4 2014 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page, Media