A Pulitzer prize winning photographer for the Associated Press was killed and her colleague was injured when an Afghan police officer shot at the pair as they sat in their car in eastern Afghanistan.
Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a German photographer with the AP since 2002, was killed instantly, according to an AP Television freelancer who witnessed the shooting, the wire service said.
Kathy Gannon, a veteran war correspondent who has covered the unrest in the Middle East for three decades, was wounded twice, the AP said. She was listed in stable condition and talking to medical personnel providing her care, the AP said. Born in Canada, Gannon, 60, is based in Islamabad for the AP.
"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," AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said from New York.
Much of Niedringhaus' career had been spent covering conflict zones throughout Europe and the Middle East.
On her personal webpage, Niedringhaus wrote she started her career as a photographer at 16 when she was published in the local newspaper of her hometown in Hoexter, Germany. She worked as freelancer in college, photographing the Fall of the Berlin Wall. She worked at the European Press Photo Agency, covering the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, before joining the AP.
In 2005, Niedringhaus and a team of AP photographers won the Pulitzer for their coverage of Iraq. That same year, she won the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women's Media Foundation.
"Anja was one of the most talented, bravest and accomplished photojournalists of her generation," AP Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon said in a statement. Lyon worked with Niedringhaus for 22 years.
"Her storytelling skill with a camera was extraordinarily effective, a reflection of her own open gaze and genuine compassion for her subjects," he said. "Her enthusiasm and good cheer were infectious, even in the darkest of circumstances. She consistently volunteered for the hardest assignments and was remarkably resilient in carrying them out time after time. She truly believed in the need to bear witness."
Gannon and Niedringhaus were longtime colleagues and friends. Niedringhaus' Facebook page featured numerous stories the pair covered over the last several months and focused on media coverage of war.
The AP reports that the journalists 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.
Medical officials in Khost confirmed that Niedringhaus died.