Anja Niedringhaus, a Pullitzer prize photographer, was killed by an Afghan policeman in Afghanistan three days ago. The journalist Kathy Gannon, who accompanied her, was also shot and is in very serious condition. The two of them were covering the Afghan election. They both were sitting in the back seat of a car when the shots were fired. It has been reported that the Taliban, bent on upsetting the elections that occurred on Saturday, did not want to target Afghans because they did not want to alienate them, and instead decided to target foreigners in Afghanistan which would bring the Taliban publicity hopefully scaring off any international support for these elections. In the past month, the Taliban has taken responsibility for 25 deaths.
“For me, covering conflict and war is the essence of journalism,” Niedringhaus wrote for the spring 2012 issue of Nieman Reports, a publication of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. “The legacy of any photographer is her or his ability to capture the moment, to record history. For me it is about showing the struggle and survival of the individual.”
Born in 1965 in Hoxter in Westphalia in Germany, she started taking photographs as a freelance photographer when she was 16. She then went on to study journalism, philosophy, and German literature in Gottingen. Working for the Associated Press since 2002, she won the Pullitzer for her images of the Iraq War in the Breaking News category in 2005. She has covered the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in Israel, Libya, Pakistan, even the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Olympics.
“Anja Niedringhaus was one of the most talented, bravest, and accomplished photojournalists of her generation,” said AP Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon. “She truly believed in the need to bear witness.” Her photos and her life compel us to bear witness as well.