Danish Siddiqui, an Indian photojournalist with Reuters, was embedded with the Afghan forces. On Friday, July 16, he was reporting from Spin Boldak in Kandahar province when Taliban fighters ambushed him as well as Sediq Karzai, an Afghan special forces commander.
Both Siddiqui and Karzai were murdered.
In Spin Boldak, a small town that sits by the Afghan border with Pakistan, Noor Karim, a community elder, told this reporter that he had never met the Indian photojournalist killed just a few kilometres from his house. But had he met Siddiqui, Karim said, he would have strongly advised him against taking that trip around his town, which has been under siege by the Taliban for many weeks now.
“As a community elder and someone who has watched this crisis for many weeks now from the very frontlines, I wouldn’t recommend any civilians to come to this frontline. Surely not an Indian,” Karim said over the phone, perhaps a word of caution to discourage any ideas I might have of taking the same road from the ancient city.
But few journalists would heed such advice, especially when faced with a story to expose the human miseries brought on by the wars of men. The brilliant body of work Siddiqui left behind is testament to his commitment to telling stories that provoke the collective human conscience.
Siddiqui was reporting on the escalation of the Afghan conflict that was triggered by the ongoing withdrawal of the US and NATO forces which started in May. The region has been under frequent assault in recent months by an emboldened Taliban that has mounted increasing attacks across districts in the country.
“Danish had been in Afghanistan for nearly a month and he came to us in Kandahar one week ago,” said Ahmad Lodin, an Afghan journalist and head of Afghan Orband Weekly. “He came with the special forces and they worked on this story about rescuing an Afghan police officer who single-handedly protected the police district for three days despite being surrounded by the Taliban. The story became so famous in the Afghan media.”
It was during this mission their vehicle came under attack from the Taliban and a rocket fell close by. Siddiqui caught part of the ambush on his camera and uploaded it to social media: terrifying scenes of an explosive hitting their armoured vehicle.
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