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Photojournalist Killed While Covering Clash Between Afghan Forces And The Taliban


A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer was killed in Afghanistan today during a clash between the Taliban and national security forces. Danish Siddiqui was embedded with Afghan special forces who were trying to recapture a key border area overtaken by the Taliban. He was 38 years old. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Danish Siddiqui was doing what frontline photographers do - creating a visual record of the tumultuous times we live in. Siddiqui was out with Afghan commandos when they got caught in crossfire with the Taliban. An Afghan commander was also killed. Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, says it requires enormous bravery for journalists like Siddiqui to help people understand what's going on in places like Afghanistan.

JOEL SIMON: It's humbling to think of what journalists like Danish Siddiqui do every day. And the fact that, you know, he's clearly been willing to take these kinds of risks to bring us the news should serve as a reminder of just how important and valuable conflict journalism is.

NORTHAM: For more than a decade as a photographer with Reuters, Siddiqui had a front seat at the world's hot spots, whether it be widespread protests in Hong Kong, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or ethnic violence and the devastating COVID outbreak in his home country India. In 2018, Siddiqui was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for their work documenting the plight of Rohingya refugees trying to flee Myanmar. Rafael Nam, a former Reuters reporter, now with NPR, worked with Siddiqui for six years in Mumbai.

RAFAEL NAM, BYLINE: Going to a foreign country and doing a reporting assignment is when he was at his best and what he enjoyed doing the most. And he was very modest in that sense. He wasn't - oh, look at me; I'm a hotshot wartime photographer or I'm a hotshot person that goes out. There was always gee-whiz element of, you know, I cannot believe I'm doing this; I cannot believe I'm being paid to do this.

NORTHAM: A native of New Delhi, Siddiqui described himself as mostly self-taught. In a Reuters tribute, he was quoted as saying what he enjoyed most was capturing the human face of a breaking story. Do a search of Danish Siddiqui's photographs; it'll bring up remarkable pictures showing the full gamut of human emotion - heartbreak, fear, desperation, but also joy and tenderness. Siddiqui is survived by his wife and two young children.

Jackie Northam, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.