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Indian photojournalist covering Afghan clashes killed in Kandahar

Danish Siddiqui was on a reporting assignment embedded with the Afghan security forces.ptiPremium
Danish Siddiqui was on a reporting assignment embedded with the Afghan security forces.pti

Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was killed in Kandahar province of Afghanistan while on a reporting assignment embedded with that country’s security forces, Afghan ambassador Farid Mamundzay said on Friday

Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was killed in Kandahar province of Afghanistan while on a reporting assignment embedded with that country’s security forces, Afghan ambassador Farid Mamundzay said on Friday.

“Deeply disturbed by the sad news of the killing of a friend, Danish Siddiqui in Kandahar last night. The Indian journalist and winner of Pulitzer Prize was embedded with Afghan security forces. I met him two weeks ago before his departure to Kabul. Condolences to his family and Reuters," Mamundzay tweeted.

In other tweets in Hindi, Mamundzay said Siddiqui, the chief photographer for Reuters in India, was with “Afghan security forces when they were attacked by terrorists" in Kandahar province on Friday.

Afghanistan’s Tolo News channel cited unidentified people as saying that Siddiqui was killed in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar along with Sediq Karzai, an Afghan special forces commander.

An Afghan commander told Reuters that Siddiqui was killed on Friday while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters near a border crossing with Pakistan in Spin Boldak.

Afghan special forces were fighting to retake the main market area of Spin Boldak when Siddiqui and the senior Afghan officer were killed in what was described as “Taliban crossfire", the official said.

Siddiqui had earlier told Reuters he was injured in the arm by shrapnel on Friday while reporting on the clash. He was treated and was recovering when Taliban fighters retreated from the fighting in Spin Boldak. Siddiqui was talking to shopkeepers when the Taliban attacked again, the Afghan commander said.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian ambassador in Kabul was in touch with Afghan authorities. “We are keeping his (Siddiqui’s) family informed of the developments," he said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condoled Siddiqui’s death in a message posted on Facebook. “I am deeply saddened with the shocking reports that Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering the Taliban atrocities in Kandahar," he said.

“While I extend my heartfelt condolences to Mr Siddiqui’s family and also to our media family, I reiterate my government’s unwavering commitment to freedom of speech and protection of free media and journalists," he added.

Siddiqui had been embedded with Afghan special forces in southern Kandahar province since earlier this week and was reporting on fighting between Afghan commandos and Taliban fighters. On Tuesday, Siddiqui had reported on a mission by the Afghan special forces to rescue a wounded policeman who had been cut off from others and had been trapped by the Taliban for 18 hours on the outskirts of Kandahar city, the capital of the province.

His report included graphic images of vehicles of the Afghan forces being targeted with rockets, and he had tweeted a brief video of the armoured Humvee vehicle he was in being hit by a rocket.

Siddiqui was part of a Reuters team that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Rohingya refugee crisis.

He also won praise for his images of communal violence in northeast Delhi in 2020 and the devastating second wave of covid-19 infections earlier this year.

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