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