Libyan conflict claims two Western journalists

Oxford-educated photo-journalist Tim Hetherington. Was first Western journalist to be killed in action in Libya.

Two Western journalists covering the on-going conflict in Libya, have become the first Western journalists to be killed in action. An award-winning British photographer, Tim Hetherington was killed Wednesday while covering the conflict in the Libyan city of Misrata. Liverpool-born Hetherington is said to have died in a mortar attack. His family said he would be forever missed. And US photographer Chris Hondros, 41, was also killed, and two others, one a Briton, were injured. Mr Hetherington, 41, who co-directed Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo about US troops in Afghanistan, was working for Vanity Fair magazine.

In a statement on the magazine’s website, they said: “It is with great sadness we learned that our son and brother, photographer and filmmaker, Tim Hetherington was killed.  “Tim will be remembered for his amazing images and his Academy Award-nominated documentary Restrepo.” They added: “Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict.” Vanity Fair magazine said Mr Hetherington was “widely respected by his peers for his bravery and camaraderie”.

In a recent entry on Twitter, Mr Hetherington described “indiscriminate shelling” by pro-Gaddafi forces, who have been battling rebels trying to end the rule of long-time leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.  Mr Hondros was based in New York for Getty Images. The company’s director of photography, Pancho Bernasconi, said Mr Hondros had covered conflict zones since the late 1990s including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. British photographer Guy Martin, who was working with Panos Pictures agency, was hit by shrapnel and is being treated at a hospital in the city. New York-based photographer Michael Christopher Brown was also treated for shrapnel injuries.

American photographer Chris Hondros was also killed in Misrata Wednesday

The journalists were among a group who became caught up in mortar fire on Tripoli Street, the main road leading into the centre of Misrata. Libyan government forces have been battling rebels in the city since late February and an estimated 300 civilians have died. The city’s hospital said six people had been killed and 60 injured on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the UN has said the reported use of cluster munitions by Col Gaddafi’s forces in Misrata “could amount to international crimes”. The news of the journalists killing obscured other vital reports that indicated that Italy and France had joined the United Kingdom in sending military advisers to help train Libyan rebels based in Benghazi. The US government had also announced it would be sending the rebels ‘equipment’ that would help them fight Col Gadhafi’s well-trained and equipped armed forces. In the meantime, the British Foreign Office confirmed Mr Hetherington’s death and said it was offering consular assistance to his family.

Mr Hetherington, who had dual UK and US nationality, read Literature at Oxford University and is reported to have recently married. The New York-based journalist was best known for his work in Afghanistan, and the film Restrepo followed US troops on an outpost in the country. He won the World Press Photo of the Year Award in 2007.

The US-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists said two other journalists had been killed in the Libyan conflict which was “proving to be an extremely dangerous story”. Its director Robert Mahoney said: “We’re shocked and saddened by word that our colleague Tim Hetherington has died, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.” Mr Hetherington’s friend Peter Bouckaert, from the campaign group Human Rights Watch, said he had a “tremendous reputation and a giant heart”.

He told BBC News: “It really is a very tragic death for a giant in the field of war photography.” Publicity agent Cathy Saypol, who represented Mr Hetherington in the past, told Vanity Fair’s website: “We are saddened beyond words that our friend, photographer and filmmaker, Tim Hetherington, was killed in Misrata this morning.” Meanwhile, tributes have started to appear on his Facebook page. One from film director Jean Manuel said: “Tim Hetherington, I love you. Thank you for everything. I will help make sure our work continues.”

Story source: Further editing by Henry Gombya

2 thoughts on “Libyan conflict claims two Western journalists

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