A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Danish Siddiqui had been covering the situation in Kandahar, Afghanistan over the last few days. Siddiqui had covered the 2020 Delhi riots, disturbing pictures  of burning dead bodies of Covid-19 dead during India's second wave

Danish Siddiqui, an award-winning photojournalist, was killed on Friday while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters near a border crossing with Pakistan. The Pulitzer Prize-winning chief photographer had been covering the Afghan-Taliban clashes for Reuters over the last few days.

Afghan special forces were fighting to retake the main market area of Spin Boldak in the Kandahar district of Afghanistan when Siddiqui and a senior Afghan officer were killed in what Afghan officials described as Taliban crossfire.

Earlier this week, Siddiqui had been embedded with Afghan special forces in Kandahar to cover the conflict in the region.

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

“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.”

Reuters, however, 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.

In New Delhi, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, while responding to media queries, said that “Our Ambassador in Kabul is in touch with Afghan authorities. We are keeping his family informed of the developments.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said he is deeply saddened with the news of Siddiqui’s killing. “I am deeply saddened with the shocking reports that Reuters Photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering the Taliban atrocities in Kandahar,” Ghani said in a tweet.

“While I extend my heartfelt condolences to Mr Siddiqui’s family and also to our media family. I reiterate my government’s unwavering commitment to freedom of speech and protection of free media and journalists,” he added.

Based in Mumbai, Siddiqui graduated with a degree in Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He also had a degree in Mass Communication from the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at the same institute.

He began his career as a television news correspondent and later joined Reuters as an intern in 2010.

In 2018, Danish Siddiqui and his colleague Adnan Abidi became the first Indians to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for documenting the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Siddiqui had covered the 2020 Delhi riots, the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nepal earthquake in 2015, the Battle of Mosul in 2016-17, and the 2019–2020 protests in Hong Kong.

Siddiqui’s work has been widely published across global publications including New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and National Geographic Magazine.

Condolences Pour In

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Farid Mamundzay said: “Deeply saddened by the sad news of the murder of a friend Danish Siddiqui in Kandahar last night. Indian journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner was with Afghan security forces when they were attacked by terrorists.”

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur also expressed his condolences on the passing of Siddiqui. “Danish Siddiqui leaves behind an extraordinary body of work. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography and was embedded with the Afghan Forces in Kandahar… Sincere condolences. RIP,” he tweeted.