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Reuters journalist is killed covering clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters

Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui was killed on Friday while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters near a border crossing with Pakistan, an Afghan commander said.

Afghan special forces had been fighting to retake the main market area of Spin Boldak when Siddiqui and a senior Afghan officer were killed in what they described as Taliban crossfire, the official told Reuters.

Siddiqui had been embedded as a journalist since earlier this week with Afghan special forces based in the southern province of Kandahar and had been reporting on fighting between Afghan commandos and Taliban fighters.

Reuters news agency said Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Danish Siddiqui (pictured), who was embedded with the Afghan special forces, was killed as the commando unit sought to recapture Spin Boldak

Reuters photographer Danish Siddiqui covers the monsoon floods and landslides in the upper reaches of Govindghat, India in 2013

 Reuters photographer Danish Siddiqui covers the monsoon floods and landslides in the upper reaches of Govindghat, India in 2013

‘We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region,’ Reuters President Michael Friedenberg and Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said in a statement.

‘Danish was an outstanding journalist, a devoted husband and father, and a much-loved colleague. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time.’

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement on Twitter that he was ‘deeply saddened with the shocking reports’ of Siddiqui’s death and extended condolences to his family.

Siddiqui told Reuters he had been wounded in the arm by shrapnel earlier on Friday while reporting on the clash. He was treated and Taliban fighters later retreated from the fighting in Spin Boldak.

Siddiqui had been talking to shopkeepers when the Taliban attacked again, the Afghan commander said.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the details of the renewed fighting described by the Afghan military official, who asked not to be identified before Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry made a statement.

Tributes rushed in for Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui after it was confirmed he died while covering fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban

Tributes rushed in for Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui after it was confirmed he died while covering fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban

Photojournalists in Kolkata, India, pay tribute to Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui after he was killed while covering clashes between Afghan security forces and the Taliban

Photojournalists in Kolkata, India, pay tribute to Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui after he was killed while covering clashes between Afghan security forces and the Taliban

Journalists paid tribute to Danish Siddiqui by lighting candles in front of his portrait outside the press club in New Dehli

Journalists paid tribute to Danish Siddiqui by lighting candles in front of his portrait outside the press club in New Dehli

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban had not been aware there was a journalist reporting from the site of what he described as a ‘fierce battle’ and that it was not clear how Siddiqui had been killed. 

Siddiqui was part of the Reuters photography team to win the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for documenting the Rohingya refugee crisis, a series described by the judging committee as ‘shocking photographs that exposed the world to the violence Rohingya refugees faced in fleeing Myanmar’.

A Reuters photographer since 2010, Siddiqui’s work spanned the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Hong Kong protests and Nepal earthquakes. 

In recent months, his searing photographs capturing the coronavirus pandemic in India have been published across the world. 

Taliban fighters had seized the border area on Wednesday, the second-largest crossing on the border with Pakistan and one of the most important objectives they have achieved during a rapid advance across the country as US forces pull out after 20 years of conflict.

The convoy of Afghan Special Forces that Siddiqui was embedded with are seen during a rescue mission in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on July 13

The convoy of Afghan Special Forces that Siddiqui was embedded with are seen during a rescue mission in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on July 13

Afghan special forces, who Siddiqui was embedded with, speak to residents as others search his house on July 12

Afghan special forces, who Siddiqui was embedded with, speak to residents as others search his house on July 12

Danish Siddiqui, right, takes photographs while helping a flood-affected woman who is being evacuated from the upper reaches of Govindghat in India in 2013

Danish Siddiqui, right, takes photographs while helping a flood-affected woman who is being evacuated from the upper reaches of Govindghat in India in 2013

Siddiqui takes pictures of the damaged cargo ship MSC Chitra in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast in August 2010

Siddiqui takes pictures of the damaged cargo ship MSC Chitra in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast in August 2010

Thirty-three journalists were killed in Afghanistan between 2018 and 2021, the United Nations said in a report this year.

Ten journalists were killed on April 30, 2018, including nine reporters and photographers who died in a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, and a journalist working for the Afghan language service of the BBC who was shot in the eastern city of Khost.

That day was the deadliest for the country’s media since the Taliban were ousted in a US-led campaign in 2001.

On November 19, 2001, Reuters journalists Harry Burton from Australia and Afghan-born Azizullah Haidari were also killed by gunmen who stopped their convoy on the road to Kabul from the Pakistani border. They were travelling to Kabul to cover the fall of the Taliban regime.

Siddiqui's picture of an exhausted Rohingya refugee woman touching the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat in September 2017

Siddiqui’s picture of an exhausted Rohingya refugee woman touching the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat in September 2017

Siddiqui's picture of fireworks exploding over a torchlit procession during the celebration marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang

Siddiqui’s picture of fireworks exploding over a torchlit procession during the celebration marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s foundation in Pyongyang

Siddiqui's picture of a Naga Sadhu, a Hindu holy man, putting on a mask before taking part in the Pitcher Festival during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2021

Siddiqui’s picture of a Naga Sadhu, a Hindu holy man, putting on a mask before taking part in the Pitcher Festival during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2021

Siddiqui's picture of Hindu priests sitting inside a cave as they perform evening prayers on the banks of the river Ganges in India in March 2017

Siddiqui’s picture of Hindu priests sitting inside a cave as they perform evening prayers on the banks of the river Ganges in India in March 2017

Siddiqui's picture of protesters in Hong Kong during a Human Rights Day march, organised by the Civil Human Right Front, in December 2019

Siddiqui’s picture of protesters in Hong Kong during a Human Rights Day march, organised by the Civil Human Right Front, in December 2019

Siddiqui's picture of a Kashmiri woman watching protests in Anchar neighbourhood after Friday Prayers in September 2019

Siddiqui’s picture of a Kashmiri woman watching protests in Anchar neighbourhood after Friday Prayers in September 2019

Siddiqui's picture of people waiting to cremate Covid-19 victims in New Delhi, India, in April 2021

Siddiqui’s picture of people waiting to cremate Covid-19 victims in New Delhi, India, in April 2021

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