(LONDON) — Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed in southern Afghanistan while covering clashes between the country’s special forces and the Taliban. He was 38.
Siddiqui, an Indian national and a chief photographer for the Reuters news agency, was embedded with Afghan special forces in the southern province of Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold, and had been reporting on the battle there when he lost his life.
A local official told ABC News that their convoy was ambushed by the Taliban in Spin Boldak, a strategic border crossing along the frontier with Pakistan that the group claimed to have seized earlier this week.
“Danish was an outstanding journalist, a devoted husband and father, and a much-loved colleague,” Reuters president Michael Friedenberg and editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni said in a joint statement. “Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time.”
The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) said it was “deeply saddened” by Siddiqui’s death.
“So far, AJSC has not managed to obtain verified information on how he was killed,” the Kabul-based organization said in a statement Friday. “AJSC condemns this killing and calls on the Afghan government to investigate the incident in a speedy manner and share its findings.”
Siddiqui was among the Reuters photography staff to win the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for documenting the violence Rohingya refugees faced as they fled Myanmar. He had worked for the news agency since 2010, covering various crises around the world.
Siddiqui’s death came as the Taliban continues to make sweeping advances across Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of foreign troops. The group has claimed it now controls most of the country as the U.S. military winds down its presence there.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001, until a U.S.-led invasion removed the regime from power for providing refuge to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other prime suspects of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The military operation turned into America’s longest war.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said that the military withdrawal, which began in May, will be completed by Aug. 31. During a press conference last week, Biden defended his decision to bring home American troops from Afghanistan, telling reporters “the status quo was not an option,” and he rejected the notion that a Taliban takeover of the country was inevitable.
“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build. And it’s the right and the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country,” Biden said. “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.”
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