A Reuters photographer was left behind in July during an Afghan military retreat, according to an Afghan general, and was likely killed by the Taliban.
Danish Siddiqui, a 38-year-old Pulitzer-winning photojournalist, was killed on July 16 along with two other Afghan leaders after the military withdrew in a fight to capture a city near Afghanistan’s border, Reuters reported.
Major General Haibatullah Alizai, the commander of Afghanistan’s Special Operations Corps, who was hosting Siddiqui at the time, said Siddiqui and the two commanders were mistakenly left behind after the soldiers thought the three had already been withdrawn. Four other soldiers supported Alizai’s account.
Saddiqui and the two commanders reportedly did not withdraw and were instead at a local mosque where the photographer was being treated for a grenade wound.
Siddiqui’s body was allegedly found mutilated in the Taliban’s custody. His body was recovered and identified after photos on social media were compared to his body by Reuters and Forensic Equity ballistics expert Philip Boyce.
It is “clear that he was shot several times after he was killed,” Boyce said. Other reports claimed that Siddiqui’s body was also run over by a vehicle, according to Reuters.
The Taliban refuse to kill the photojournalist, saying the body was in that condition when it was found.
Siddiqui left two small children and his wife. His death has devastated the global journalistic community and Reuters staff.
“If we do not go, who will?” Siddiqui told his boss when he asked to cover Afghanistan in the last month leading up to the country’s collapse.
Siddiqui assured his family and friends that he wanted to know when to leave the country, and he told them that Reuters made a risk assessment before going into the field.
Reuters has several top editors approving risky assignments, but Reuters staff have questioned how this call was made.
Some staff believe his task was the right move, while others believe Saddiqui should have been pulled out earlier. Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said she takes “full responsibility for the decision.”
An internal and external review is underway for the events and decisions leading up to Siddiqui’s death.
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