Category: Press Releases, Asia, Afghanistan
By: Carolin Dürkop, IPI Contributor

Two AP journalists shot in Afghanistan, one killed

Country sees increasing violence ahead of elections

Veteran AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus covers a swimming event at the Olympic Games in Athens, Aug. 21, 2004. REUTERS

By: Carolin Dürkop, IPI Contributor

VIENNA, April 4, 2014 – A police officer in the remote town of Khost, near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, reportedly shot and killed one foreign journalist today and seriously wounded another.

Veteran AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, a German national, was killed in the attack and veteran reporter, Kathy Gannon, a Canadian national, was seriously injured.

According to BCC News, Gannon was being given medical treatment and is in stable condition. The police officer accused in the shooting reportedly surrendered to Afghan authorities, who were holding him in custody and questioning him.

“We were glad to hear that Afghan authorities have committed to investigating this attack, but the credibility of that commitment will be shown only when those responsible for what appears to be a targeted attack against two respected journalists are brought to justice,” International Press Institute (IPI) Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said. “We extend our condolences to Anja’s family, friends and colleagues, and we hope that Kathy will recover soon.”

The reason for the attack was not clear. Numerous media outlets, including the BBC, pointed out that it preceded tomorrow’s presidential elections. Afghanistan has intensified security ahead of the elections “in response to threats of violence by the Taliban”, BBC News reported.

Najiba Ayubi, managing director of the Killid Group, an independent public media group in Afghanistan, told IPI that people have speculated that the attack against Niedringhaus and Gannon may be connected with the murder of British/Swedish journalist Nils Horner on March 11.

“But there are no documents confirming this,” Ayubi pointed out. Referring to Horner’s murder, she added: “This is a very sensitive issue.”

Horner, the South Asia correspondent for Swedish Radio, died of a single gunshot wound to the back of the head that he sustained while conducting interviews on a street in Kabul.

Both Afghan and international authorities are reportedly investigating the circumstances of Horner’s murder. Unnamed sources have speculated that Horner was an intelligence agent, Opens external link in new windowThe New York Times reported, and that foreign intelligence may have been involved in his death “as part of some shadowy intelligence war in Afghanistan waged by foreigners”.

The Times noted that the Taliban officially denied any involvement in Horner’s death, but The Guardian reported that the Fidai Mahaz, a Taliban splinter group, has claimed responsibility for the attack in a post on their website. The validity of the statement, however, has yet to be determined.

Niedringhaus and Gannon reportedly were aware and concerned about the tense political situation in Afghanistan and frequent attacks against journalists working in the country. The most recent posts on their accounts on Twitter refer to the increasing number of attacks in Kabul, with the last post on Niedringhaus’ account referring to last month’s shooting death of Afghan journalist Sardar Ahmad in a hotel in Kabul.

>> For more information, contact IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi at +43 (1) 512 90 11 or by Opens window for sending emailemail.