David Gilkey, a National Public Radio (NPR) photojournalist, and his translator, Zabihullah Tamanna, were killed on Sunday in Afghanistan after the car they were in was ambushed by the Taliban.
The two colleagues were on an assignment for the NPR traveling with the Afghan army unit when a rocket-propelled grenades hit the armored Humvee they were being transported. The Afghan soldier who drove the ambushed vehicle was also killed, according to a statement from the NPR.
The Humvee took a direct hit, and the car plunged into a canal, according to Ahmad Shaikail Tassal, spokesman for the 215th Corps. The incident was near the town of Marja in the restive Helmand province, as reported by the Washington Post.
The Afghan troops responded the attack for the next 30 minutes until the U.S. and Afghan attack helicopters arrived at the scene and repelled the assault. The bodies were rescued in the late afternoon and returned to the U.S., Shaikail Tassal said.
NPR Pentagon correspondent, Tom Bowman, and producer Monika Evstatieva were also in the convoy but traveling in a separate vehicle. They were not injured by the Taliban insurgents’ attack.
“This attack is a grim reminder of the danger that continues to face the Afghan people,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement. “The dedication of Afghan national defense and security forces to securing their country, and of the courage of intrepid journalists, and their interpreters, who are trying to convey that important story to the rest of the world.”
The best at what they did
The NPR considered Gilkey as one of the best photojournalists of the world. He was honored with a large amount of awards such as a George Polk Award in 2010, a national News and Documentary Emmy in 2007 and several distinctions from the White House News Photographers Association, including 2011 Still Photographer of the Year.
The photojournalist also covered some important moments around the globe such as wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and, the most recent one, the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
NPR Photographer, Interpreter Killed In Afghanistan https://t.co/A5Ug0w9Txo
— NPR (@NPR) June 5, 2016
Tamanna, who was better known as Zabi, worked as a photojournalist as well for the Chinese news agency Xinhua. He covered some important news such as the swearing of the Afghani president and the daily attacks and drone strikes that killed dozens militants and civilians.
According to Keith Jenkins, the general manager for digital at the National Geographic Society who edited David at NPR, Gilkey constantly talked about the dangers of the work and how much longer he could keep doing it.
Ultimately, he felt it was crucial to tell those stories and to tell them to a society that can very often forget that the world has people in harm’s way on a daily basis, Jenkins commented.
— NPR (@NPR) June 6, 2016