German AP Photographer Shot Dead by Afghan Cop Before Polls

An Afghan policeman shot two female foreign journalists working for the Associated Press while they were reporting on tomorrow’s election, killing one and wounding the other, according to a provincial official.

Anja Niedringhaus, a German photographer, died in the attack, while Kathy Gannon, a Canadian reporter, was seriously injured and taken to a hospital, Baryalai Rawan, a spokesman for the governor in Khost province bordering Pakistan, said by phone. They were attacked while reporting on an election commission convoy carrying materials to a polling site, he said.

The policeman who shot them was now in detention, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said in a statement. It condemned the incident and said an investigation is ongoing.

“Anja and Kathy together have spent years in Afghanistan covering the conflict and the people there,” Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll told the news agency in New York. “Anja was a vibrant, dynamic journalist, well-loved for her insightful photographs, her warm heart and joy for life. We are heartbroken at her loss.”

The journalists were sitting in the back of a car when the assailant, Naqibullah, opened fire, Rawan said. Gannon’s medical condition has improved and she is out of danger, he added.

In the past month, the Taliban has killed at least 25 people in Kabul, including policemen, election officials and foreigners. A Swedish journalist was shot dead in Kabul last month, while an Afghan who worked for Agence France-Presse died along with his family in a strike on a luxury hotel.

As many as 20 million Afghans will cast ballots tomorrow amid threats of violence, in what would be the nation’s first democratic transfer of power since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001. The Taliban will use suicide bombs to target voters and officials, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in an April 2 statement.

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