Zabihullah Tamanna, 38, was fatally shot when the Afghan military convoy in which he was travelling came under attack, according to NPR. His American colleague, David Gilkey, and the Afghan army driver of the vehicle were also killed. The journalists were on assignment for NPR at the time, the U.S. broadcaster said in its account of the deaths. They died on their first day of being embedded with the Afghan army.
They were covering intense fighting between the Afghan military and Taliban fighters in and around Marjah, a Taliban stronghold that had once been taken by American forces. The NPR journalists were being escorted to cover the situation in Marjah when their convoy came under heavy fire. Two other NPR journalists traveling in a separate vehicle in the convoy were not injured.
An NPR investigation one year after Gilkey and Tamanna’s death revealed that the convoy had been specifically targeted after the attackers were tipped off to the presence of Americans in the area. It was originally reported that the vehicle Gilkey and Tamanna were in was hit by a rocket-propelled-grenade, but NPR’s investigation raised doubts. Tamanna did not suffer from any burns and was shot outside the vehicle, according to NPR.
Though Tamanna was working as a field producer and interpreter at the time of his death, his career as a journalist started in 2002, according to the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee. His first job was as a photojournalist for Xinhua News Agency; he was later promoted to run the Chinese government news agency’s Kabul bureau until 2010. Typical of local journalists in conflict zones like Afghanistan, Tamanna had many clients other than NPR: Anadolu News Agency; CNN-IBN; Swiss TV; Brazil TV; China Central Television; Stars and Stripes, as well as several Dari-language local media organizations. Tamanna had degrees in law and political science from Kabul University, AJSC reported.