Two female journalists, working for Associated Press, or AP, were shot Friday by a police officer in Afghanistan, killing one of them, a day before presidential elections are slated in the troubled country.
Anja Niedringhaus, 48, who was an internationally acclaimed photojournalist, was killed instantly, while her colleague, Kathy Gannon, was wounded in the attack, which took place in the town of Khost in eastern Afghanistan. The attack happened while the women were travelling with election workers delivering election ballots in the area. The policeman reached them as they were getting into their cars, shouted “allahu Akbar” and fired several shots at them using an AK-47, AP reported, adding that the policeman surrendered to a police force in the area after the incident.
"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," Kathleen Carroll, AP’s executive editor, said.
The latest incident involving journalists follows an attack by the Taliban last month on a hotel in Kabul, which led to the death of eight people, including an Agence France-Presse journalist and his family. The Taliban have stepped up violence in the country in an effort to derail Afghanistan's presidential elections.
The elections, scheduled for April 5, will see eight candidates, including former foreign ministers Abdullah Abdullah and Zalmai Rassoul, and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, one of whom will succeed President Hamid Karzai. Rassoul, a front-runner in the elections, reportedly has the support of the current government.
The government has deployed nearly 20,000 troops to prevent violence on polling day, making it one of the largest military operations in the country since the fall of the Taliban.