June 5, 2016

Two journalists were killed in Afghanistan Sunday while reporting for NPR.

David Gilkey, a photojournalist, and Zabihullah Tamanna, NPR’s Afghan interpreter, were on assignment with an Afghan army unit, which came under attack.

This is the first time in NPR’s 46-year history that one of its journalists have been killed on assignment, according to CNN.

Gilkey devoted much of his career to revealing the humanity of people in Iraq and Afghanistan amid conflicts there, Michael Oreskes, NPR’s senior vice president of news and editorial director, said in a statement:

David has been covering war and conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. He was devoted to helping the public see these wars and the people caught up in them. He died pursuing that commitment. As a man and as a photojournalist, David brought out the humanity of all those around him. He let us see the world and each other through his eyes.

Sunday’s deaths bring the tally of journalists killed in Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001 to 26, according to the Committee to Protect journalists. In a statement, CPJ Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz said the organization was “deeply saddened” by Sunday’s news:

Even though much of the world’s attention has shifted away, let no one doubt that Afghanistan remains a dangerous place for journalists — local and foreign — working to cover that protracted conflict. We are deeply saddened by the deaths of Zabihullah Tamanna and David Gilkey. There are too many journalists who have given their lives to tell the Afghan story.

Gilkey was extremely dedicated, one of the few photojournalists with extensive experience reporting from Afghanistan, New York Times photojournalist Tyler Hicks said in an interview Sunday with the National Press Photographers Association:

It’s so very hard to know where to start, because very few photographers have the dedication that David has when working in war zones. There is a very short list of people who can be really counted upon, due to their experience, and the kind of people you can trust to have your back, to make the right decisions. And David was one of those people.

There was an outpouring of sympathy on social media in the the wake of the deaths.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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