Afghan shooter kills photographer, injures Canadian reporter
Canadian reporter Kathy Gannon (left) and AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus (right) are seen here in these file photos.(QMI AGENCY FILE/REUTERS/AP Handout)
TIMMINS, Ont. — A Canadian journalist was badly wounded and a German photographer killed when an Afghan policeman opened fire on them in eastern Afghanistan.
Kathy Gannon, 60, originally from Timmins, Ont., and photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, were in the country reporting for the Associated Press.
They were sitting in a car with a convoy waiting to pass through a heavily guarded compound near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. That's when, according to reports by the Associated Press, a police unit commander walked up to the car, yelled "Allahu Akbar" - God is Great - and opened fire with a AK-47. Niedringhaus died instantly. Gannon is reportedly in stable condition in hospital.
The officer was arrested shortly afterwards.
The attacks took place a day before Afghanistan's presidential elections. Insurgents have promised to mar the elections with violence.
Bullet holes are seen in the car in which Associated Press (AP) photographer Anja Niedringhaus and reporter Kathy Gannon were travelling when they were shot at, in Khost province April 4, 2014.(REUTERS/Stringer)
Gannon began her career with QMI Agency's Timmins Daily Press. Now based in Islamabad, she has covered war and unrest in Afghanistan for 30 years.
Heather Campbell, a sports editor at The Daily Press in the early 1980s, was close with Gannon when they worked together.
"She wanted to make a difference," Campbell said Friday, adding she was relieved to hear her former co-worker was stable and speaking to medical staff after the attack. "She wanted to get in and write stories that would help people and change things."
Campbell said Gannon always had an eye on the Middle East and was both fascinated and appalled by some of the things she knew were happening there.
"We used to ask her, 'Why the heck would you want to go there?'" said Campbell. "But she's been over there for (30 years).
"She was aware of the dangers in Afghanistan."
Greg Reynolds, managing editor of the The Daily Press at the time, remembers Gannon sharing a friendly rivalry with her brothers, Brian and Lorne, who were also in the news media.
"If I assigned her a tough story, she loved it. She liked the challenge of getting the full story, which is what she's now famous for: digging up hard stories in Afghanistan, following up, and presenting a balanced view."
AP president Gary Pruitt described Niedringhaus in a memo to staff as "spirited, intrepid and fearless, with a raucous laugh that we will always remember."
Niedringhaus' photographs of the country have been published internationally.
Erica Bulman of 24 hours Vancouver, roomed with Niedringhaus when they worked together in Geneva.
"Anja was one tough lady," she said Friday. "Her posting to Geneva, I believe, was meant to give her a quiet, safe place to land between assignments to various conflict zones ... But it was clear Anja was most fulfilled when she was covering conflict, recording history, the struggle and survival of those caught in war-torn areas. She never seemed to get jaded nor hardened by all the violence and tragedy she witnessed."
- with files from Reuters