Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui was killed on Friday while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters near a border post with Pakistan, an Afghan commander said.
Afghan special forces were 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 integrated as a journalist since the beginning of this week with the Afghan special forces based in the southern province of Kandahar and had covered the fighting between Afghan commandos and Taliban fighters.
“We are urgently seeking more information, together with authorities in the region,” Reuters Chairman Michael Friedenberg and Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said in a statement.
“Danish was an exceptional journalist, a devoted husband and father, and a much appreciated colleague. Our hearts go out to his family at these terrible times.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened by the shocking reports” on Siddiqui’s death and offered his condolences to his family.
Siddiqui told Reuters his arm was injured by shrapnel earlier on Friday while reporting on the clash. He was treated and the Taliban fighters then withdrew from the fighting at Spin Boldak.
Siddiqui had spoken to traders when the Taliban attacked again, the Afghan commander said.
Reuters was unable to independently verify details of the resumption of fighting described by the Afghan military official, who asked not to be identified until the Afghan Defense Ministry issued a statement.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban were not aware that a journalist was reporting from the site what he described as a “fierce battle” and that it was not clear. how Siddiqui had been killed.
Taliban fighters captured the border area on Wednesday, the second largest border crossing point with Pakistan and one of the most important targets they achieved in a rapid advance through the country as the American forces withdraw.
Thirty-three journalists were killed in Afghanistan between 2018 and 2021, the United Nations said in a report released this year.
Ten journalists were killed on April 30, 2018, including nine reporters and photographers who died in a suicide bombing in Kabul, and a journalist working for the BBC’s Afghan-language service who was shot dead in the eastern town of Khost.
It was the deadliest day for the nation’s media since the Taliban were ousted in a US-led campaign in 2001.
Siddiqui was part of the Reuters photography team that won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Reportage Photography for documenting the Rohingya refugee crisis.
A Reuters photographer since 2010, Siddiqui’s work has covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Hong Kong protests and the earthquakes in Nepal.