Danish Siddiqui, a Reuters photographer who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the violence faced by Rohingya refugees, has been killed in clashes near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Siddiqui was the news agency’s chief photographer in India, based in Mumbai. Reuters reported Siddiqui’s death on Friday, citing an Afghan commander who said he had been killed while covering fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters.
The commander said that Afghan special forces had been fighting to retake a market area near a border crossing with Pakistan when Siddiqui and a senior Afghan officer were killed, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported that Siddiqui had been embedded for the past week with Afghan special forces and that he informed the news agency that he had been wounded in the arm during an earlier clash on Friday. The news agency said it was “unable to independently verify the details of the renewed fighting described by the Afghan military official.”
“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 posted on Twitter.
“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,” they added.
Siddiqui’s body has been handed over by the Taliban to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to sources at India’s Ministry of External Affairs. The ministry is coordinating the return of his remains with Afghan authorities and the Red Cross.
Siddiqui had been a photographer for Reuters since 2010, documenting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, protests in Kong Kong and taking on assignments in India that ranged from religious celebrations to the country’s battle against coronavirus.
He was part of a Reuters team that won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for work covering the Rohingya refugees who were fleeing Myanmar. The judges described the work as “shocking photographs that exposed the world to the violence” faced by the minority group.
According to a profile on Reuters’ website, Siddiqui received his first formal training in photography at film school.
“While I enjoy covering news stories — from business to politics to sports — what I enjoy most is capturing the human face of a breaking story,” Siddiqui said in the profile. “I shoot for the common man who wants to see and feel a story from a place where he can’t be present himself.”
The Press Club of India said in a statement that it was “shocked” at the passing of Siddiqui.
“True journalism needs courage and Danish’s body of work is a testament to that,” it said. “We are at a loss of words.”
Friends and colleagues paid tribute to Siddiqui on Twitter.
“Danish was a lovely man. When he returned from assignments to the bureau, reporters greeted him like a rock star, which he really was. He was just different. News wasn’t just news for him. He saw the people behind it, and wanted to make you feel,” said the journalist Rahul Bhatia.
Henry Foy of the Financial Times described Siddiqui as a “brilliantly talented photographer and a wonderful former colleague.”
“His humour and charm never failed to light up the room, and his work brought critically important stories to our eyes. A total pro, one of a kind: A massive loss to journalism,” said Foy.
— Vedika Sud contributed reporting.