Women Journalists Shot in Afghanistan as Elections Get Underway

2948058286_a1807a58db_zTwo women journalists were shot in Afghanistan Friday—one fatally—while reporting on preparations for the country’s upcoming election.

Anja Niedringhaus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer, and Kathy Gannon, an AP reporter who covered the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls doggedly, were observing election workers in the eastern city of Khost when an Afghan policeman approached, yelling “Allahu Akbar”—God is great—before opening fire. Niedringhaus was killed instantly; Gannon was shot in the arm and is in stable condition.

German-born Niedringhaus was best known for her intimate and challenging portraits: children playing on the front lines in a war zone; a single soldier’s face as he prepares for battle.

Said Santiago Lyon of the Associated Press,

Anja Niedringhaus was one of the most talented, bravest and accomplished photojournalists of her generation. She truly believed in the need to bear witness.

Gannon, a Canadian, first arrived in Afghanistan in 1988 when the country was still occupied by the Soviets. When the Taliban took power in 1996, Gannon reported on the rise and was critical of the Taliban’s gender-apartheid regime.

Despite the evident danger in the region, Afghan voters, and women in particular, are eager to cast their ballots in the country’s upcoming election. With more than 300 women running for office across the country, Afghan women may finally see their interests represented on a national scale.

That’s something we think Niedringhaus and Gannon would cheer for.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jonathan Camuzo licensed under Creative Commons 2.0



Stephanie Hallett is a writer and editor in Los Angeles. She can be found on Twitter @stephhallett.


  1. Nargis Basri says:

    I am sure Niedringhaus was a very talented photojournalist and I regret that she was violently killed by extremists, but I do not think it was necessary to include the sacred phrase her murderers used preceding fire– Allahu Akbar. I’m sure this was not Hallet’s intention, but by putting this phrase on the tongues of terrorists perverts the words and gives negative connotations about it. We Muslims begin each prayer by saying “Allahu Akbar”. We Muslims congratulate amazing feats by saying “Allahu Akbar”. But many non-Muslims are unfamiliar with the sacred phrase and associate with terrorists. So yeah, reading the sacred phrase in Hallet’s article I felt that she was being rather insensitive. I mean, those cowards that obviously fear women are not be the face of “Allahu Akbar”.

    • Stephanie Hallett says:

      Thanks for your feedback. My intention was to report what occurred, and in this case the shooter unfortunately used the phrase “Allahu Akbar.” I understand the sensitivity around the phrase though and appreciate your thoughts.

  2. ElizabethGS says:

    Unfortunately, Nargis..it was this murderer who perverted the sacred phrase and again unfortunately, has turned so many non Muslims into haters against all Muslims who do not bear ill-will to others not of your faith. Reporting what occurred is necessary ..these women were very brave journalists IN Afghanistan for the very purpose of making sure the truth would be shown and told to the world via their reports and photographs. To hide what their attacker said would be the opposite of what they risked their lives for. They were there to help the brave women of Afghanistan stand up to an oppressive regime..or at the very least document it. That regime USES their religion to keep the populace in line, especially women..no doubt the very reason they were targeted. One canNOT separate his use of this phrase from his belief that he was doing ‘right’ and obeying his religious leaders by murdering disobedient women. There are those in this Country who also use their religion (and their bible) to maltreat women and excuse their centuries-old misogyny. Women are murdered every day in the US by spouses or boyfriends who somehow believe they have that right because they think of their wives or romantic partners as their ‘property’. No amount of progressiveness seems to get through their thick heads. To me there’s little difference. That one of these women survived to tell the story is remarkable. I’m just so sad that such good women fell prey to such a frightened and ignorant man.

  3. Hopefully now that women have turned out in great numbers, real women’s rights will take hold in Afghanistan. Funny, though, we still haven’t passed our own Equal Rights Amendment. Go figure.

  4. Having read this I believed it was very enlightening.

    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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