Freelance photojournalist Mohammed Ghalib al-Majidi was killed while covering clashes in the city of Taiz, roughly 200 miles (320 kilometers) from Sanaa, on March 21, 2016, according to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate and news reports. At the time, Houthi rebel forces and supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh were fighting to re-impose a siege on the city, defended by a patchwork of pro-government forces and local fighters.
According to the news reports, al-Majidi joined a group of journalists on the front lines in the Dhabab area of western Taiz, when Houthi and pro-Saleh forces fired on them with small arms. Al-Majidi was struck in the head and died instantly. Another four journalists were also injured, the reports said.
A graphic video published by Yemen TV shows a chaotic scene as journalists and gunmen alike run down a long, empty road, fleeing bullets fired by unseen gunmen. The video then cuts to al-Majidi’s body in the morgue, blood staining his striped polo shirt as other journalists mourn.
Al-Majidi began working as an activist and photojournalist at the start of the 2011 protest movement to oust former president Saleh, according to the reports. According to the independent Al-Masdar news website, al-Majidi worked under the pseudonym Mohammed al-Yemeni, refusing to reveal his real name and never publishing a picture of himself working.
He primarily published his photographs on his personal Facebook page under the Mohammed al-Yemeni pseudonym. His older posts primarily focused on political protests and social events. His most recent work focused exclusively on Yemen’s descent into war, where his posts on the fighting in Taiz were widely distributed. Numerous local news outlets republished his photographs of the fighting and the leaders directing it. In one of his more recent set of photographs widely published in local media, al-Majidi highlighted the damaged and inadequate military supplies the “resistance” in Taiz had received to fight Houthi-Saleh forces.
Al-Majidi made clear in his reporting his support for the forces fighting the Houthi-Saleh rebels. News reports said that in recognition of his support, a military leader, Hamoud Saeed al-Mekhlafi, entrusted him to become his personal photographer.
In a Facebook video published by Ayman al-Qurashi, a photographer based in Taiz, al-Majidi, wearing a striped polo shirt and no armor, can be seen filming right next to al-Mekhlafi as al-Mekhlafi urges his fighters to advance. Al-Qurashi says al-Majidi was killed moments later.
Al-Mekhlafi’s office did not respond to CPJ’s written requests for comment in October 2016 to confirm his relationship with al-Majidi.
Only two weeks before his death, al-Majidi was shot in his right leg while reporting. He posted on his Facebook page that it was not a serious injury, as “the bullet entered and exited from the muscle.”
His injury and the repeated coverage of the violence in Taiz seemed to wear on al-Majidi. On March 18, he confessed on Facebook, “The truth is I’m tired, and I can no longer continue for need of an open-ended vacation.” Yet he did not stop working. On the day he was killed, his final post reads, “We’re going out to the battle again. Your prayers.”
Al-Majidi was married with five children.