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Photographer Anja Niedringhaus has been killed, and journalist Kathy Gannon is injured with bullet wounds, in an attack by a police officer in Khost, eastern Afghanistan.

An Afghan police commander opened fire Friday on two Associated Press journalists inside a security forces base in eastern Afghanistan, killing prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.

Niedringhaus, 48, who had covered conflict zones from the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and was part of a team of AP photographers who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, died instantly of her wounds.

Gannon, who for many years was the news organization's Afghanistan bureau chief and currently is a special correspondent for the region, was shot three times in the wrists and shoulder. After surgery, she was in stable condition and spoke to medical personnel before being flown to Kabul.
AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed, Reporter Kathy Gannon Shot In Afghanistan, AP

A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for The Associated Press was killed and a reporter from the news agency was wounded by a police officer in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, officials said.

Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a photographer who had covered numerous conflicts, and Kathy Gannon, 60, the reporter, were shot in Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan, where they had traveled to cover preparations for the country’s presidential election on Saturday. Both had spent many years covering the war in Afghanistan and knew the country well.

Ms. Gannon, who was shot twice, was receiving treatment at a hospital in the city of Khost, the provincial capital. The A.P. said she was in stable condition and talking to medical personnel. An official from the American-led coalition later said that Ms. Gannon was being evacuated by foreign forces to one of the main NATO bases in the country, where there is a hospital equipped to handle severe battlefield trauma.

Foreign Journalist Is Killed by Afghan Police Officer, New York Times

Many reporters have been killed or intimidated through violence lately.

  • Sardar Ahmed of AFP was shot and killed along with his wife and two children in a   Taliban attack on the Serena Hotel.
  • Swedish journalist Nil Honer was shot dead by an unknown gunmen while walking in Kabul, in March. Security on the day was heavy for the funeral of Vice President Mohammed Fahim. Photos show two running armed men, looking like Afghan National Directorate of Security forces.
  • Afghan journalist Noor Ahmad Noori was tortured and killed by unknown forces in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, in January. His body was found dumped in a plastic bag.

Foreigners, and foreign organizations and hangouts have been the subject of sharply increased attacks and killings.

  • The March attack on Roots for Peace, a Christian NGO.
  • The March attack on the Serena hotel, where Sardar Ahmed and others were killed.
  • The January attack on restaurant Taverna du Liban, which Nil Honer had been investigating.

And election-related violence has been high.

Presidential and provincial council elections are tomorrow. Polling suggests that western-oriented technocrat Ashraf Ghani, on a surprising combined ticket with northern warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, is in the lead. That Panjshiri technocrat Abduallah Abdullah, on a surprising combined ticket with Hezb-i-Islami official Mohammad Khan, and the not-so-surprising Hazara warlord Mohammad Mohaqiq, is a close second. And that western-oriented technocrat Zalmay Rassoul, who has tied his campaign to continuity with Hamid Karzai, is doing poorly. Rassoul is running with Ahmad Zia Massoud.

Interest in Afghan elections has been falling with each successive election plagued by fraud. News reports are suggesting higher interest in this one though, especially in urban centers where the voting tends to be more real. Vote fraud in southern and eastern areas will likely be very high. See Anand Ghopal, Rigging the Afghan Vote, for an account of how the fraud occurs in practice. Supposed election security officials control who gets to stuff or top up ballot boxes, especially in the polling centers just secure enough to be opened.

Many Afghans would like an end to all the violence, and especially an end to killings of civilians, an end to the ethnic division and factionalism, an end to the corruption, an end to rule by warlord, and a focus on economic progress. A contrasting opinion trend is a growing harsh Islamic radicalism. And the warlords still have immense power.

See Kathy Gannon's 2004 essay, Afghanistan Unbound, about the warlord rule and how it came about. It's some of the best writing about Afghanistan around.

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