Anja Niedringhaus

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Niedringhaus, 48, a German photographer for The Associated Press, was shot dead by a police officer who walked up to her car, said “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), and opened fire, according to the AP and news reports. Kathy Gannon, AP special correspondent for the region, was wounded in the attack. The two were in a car with a translator and another AP freelance photographer.

Niedringhaus and Gannon were traveling in a convoy of election workers delivering ballots from the center of Khost city to the outskirts, in Tani district, according to the AP report which cited AP staff who were on the scene. The convoy was protected by Afghan security forces. After opening fire on the car, the officer surrendered to other police and was arrested.

The shooting happened the day before nationwide elections for a president and provincial councils, which the Taliban had vowed to disrupt, according to reports.

There was an uptick in attacks in Afghanistan in the weeks leading up to the election. About a month before Niedringhaus’ death, British-Swedish journalist Nils Horner was shot dead in broad daylight in Kabul’s diplomatic district, news reports said. In January, a Lebanese restaurant popular with foreigners was attacked in a suicide bombing.

On July 23, 2014, a court in Nangahar convicted Naqibullah, an Afghan police commander who goes by only one name, as many Afghans do, in the attack that killed Niedringhaus. He was found guilty of murder and treason. Reports citing witness and official accounts suggested the shooting was not planned. In court, Naqibullah did not offer a motive for carrying out the attack.

Naqibullah was given the death penalty, which was commuted to a jail term in January 2015, according to news reports. The sentence was appealed to the Supreme Court, which made a 20-year term final, the AP reported on March 28, 2015.