British photojournalist Tim Hetherington, whose documentary film on the war in Afghanistan was nominated for an Oscar, was killed in the embattled western city of Misrata, Vanity Fair confirmed on Wednesday.
Three others working beside him were wounded by fire from a rocket propelled grenade, according to media reports. Two of the photographers — Chris Hondros and Guy Martin — were reportedly in grave condition.
Hondros is an American working for the Getty Images photo service. He suffered a severe brain injury and was in extremely critical condition, The New York Times reported.
Martin, who is British, had shrapnel wounds and was undergoing surgery Wednesday night, the Times reported.
Another photographer, Michael Christopher Brown, had shrapnel wounds but was his life was reportedly not in danger.
Leila Fadel, a Washington Post reporter who was at the hospital, reported that Hetherington was rushed from the battle by ambulance along with rebel fighters. He was taken to a triage tent next to the hospital, she said, and appeared pale and was bleeding heavily. He was pronounced dead some 15 minutes after his arrival, according to her account in The Washington Post.
Hetherington, 41, posted on Twitter Tuesday: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."
Hetherington was best known as co-director of the documentary film "Restrepo" with Sebastian Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm." The film tells the story of the 2nd Platoon of Battle Company in the 173rd Airborne Combat Team on its deployment in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary. The title refers to the platoon outpost, named after a popular soldier, Juan Restrepo, who was killed early in the fighting.
"Tim died about two hours ago," Peter N. Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch in Geneva, told Vanity Fair, where Hetherington was a contributing photographer. "Three other journalist were also hit [in an] R.P.G. attack, one being Getty photographer Chris Hondros [who was seriously wounded]; photographer Guy Martin, of the Panos Agency, who is in very serious condition; and a freelancer, Michael Brown, who is slightly wounded."
Hetherington's coverage of American soldiers in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan also won him the World Press Photo of the Year Award, one of three World Press prizes he has received.
Hondros is a prize-winning photojournalist based in New York. Besides the Libyan conflict, he has covered wars in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. His work has been widely published around the world. In 2003, Hondros made a picture of a Liberian government soldier with an RPG launcher that became one of the most iconic documents of that civil war.
In 2006, Hondros was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award by the Overseas Press Club for a series of images from Tal Afar, Iraq, in which U.S. soldiers mistakenly opened fire on an Iraqi family’s car. The next year, in a video interview with msnbc.com, Hondros said "I’m glad that those pictures exist, because it documents a circumstance that happens a lot there, and that people need to know about."
Mohamed Abdel Dayem, program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists in the Middle East and North Africa, told Reuters this week that the number of attacks on the media in the Middle East and North Africa since the start of the year was "unprecedented."
"This hasn't happened before, not with this intensity and not with this frequency," he said of the attacks.
Dayem said 14 journalists were killed worldwide so far this year, with 10 of those deaths in the Middle East and North Africa. The hundreds of other attacks on the media in the region included detentions, destruction of equipment and death threats.
While the Committee to Protect Journalists said press freedom has improved in Egypt and Tunisia since protesters ousted the presidents of both countries this year, it described the situation as only graduating from "horrendous to bad."