Photojournalist Awab al-Zubiry was killed on November 18, 2016, while documenting destruction from fighting between pro-government and Houthi rebel forces in the city of Taiz, roughly 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of Sanaa, according to Taiz News Network, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, and news reports.
Khaled al-Hammadi, the president of the Yemeni press freedom group Freedom Foundation, spoke to al-Zubiry’s father, Tariq al-Zubiry, at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ request. Al-Hammadi told CPJ that the journalist’s father said al-Zubiry was a communications student at Taiz University and worked as a volunteer freelancer for several organizations, including Taiz News Network.
Taiz News Network issued a statement on its Facebook page on November 18, 2016, mourning the death of their photojournalist while he documented the destruction of civilian homes. Taiz News Network covers events in Yemen with a focus on the city of Taiz through its social media platforms. As of December 2016, the network was followed by roughly 97,000 people on Facebook, 20,000 people on Twitter, and more than 1,000 people on YouTube.
Zakaria al-Sharabi, Taiz News Network’s director, confirmed to CPJ that al-Zubiry was on assignment with the network at the time of his death. Al-Zubiry was active with various local youth photojournalism and production groups, according to al-Sharabi. Al-Zubiry’s Facebook page listed him as working for A’alamy for Media Production, which produces video clips, films, and advertisements.
According to Mustafa Nasser, the director of the Studies and Economic Media Center, a Yemeni think tank that releases a quarterly report on press freedom, eyewitness Hussam al-Qulaiah said that al-Zubiry was advancing towards a building when he noticed explosives. He raised the alarm to warn others not to enter the building, but the explosives detonated before he could distance himself. Taiz News Network said the detonation and collapse of the building were caused by explosives rigged by pro-Houthi forces.
Video footage posted on Facebook by Taiz News Network on November 18 shows multiple people struggling to clear the rubble to retrieve al-Zubiry’s remains as gunfire ricochets around them.