Thursday, April 21, 2011

Conflict Kills

We had driven to a hilltop command post to watch the attack. The position had a code name, Darya, which means "river" in Dari, the Persian dialect that's Afghanistan's lingua franca, and on the radio we could hear field commanders yelling, "Darya! Darya! Darya!" as they called in reports or shouted for artillery. The commander of the position, a gentle-looking man in his thirties named Harun, was dressed for war in corduroy pants and a cardigan. He was responsible for all the artillery on the front line; we found him in a bunker, studying maps by the light of a kerosene lantern. He was using a schoolboy's plastic protractor to figure out trajectory angles for his tanks. Sebastian Junger: The Lion In Winter
Tim Hetherington, photojournalist and co-director of Oscar-nominated war documentary Restrepo, co-directed with Sebastien Junger, died yesterday doing what determinedly-intrepid reporters and photojournalists seem irresistibly drawn to: documenting theatres of irregular warfare, and bringing the inevitable scenes of slaughter and destruction to the public.

His was not the only death; a colleague, another award-winning photographer, Chris Hondros also died, albeit not instantly when their group of photographers closely following rebels in Misurata attacking government troops on Tripoli Street, were hit by mortar fire. Chris Hondros suffered a mortal head wound; the attending doctor felt he would not survive his brain injuries. And he did not.

They were with a group intent on capturing for the record what was occurring in the beleaguered city where cluster bombs were being used against the civilian population, and sniper fire targeted civilians, women and children. They were witness to history. With a long and varied background of having witnessed other incendiary and non-traditional wars in vicious hot-spots around the world.

"I told them not to gather", a rebel was reported as having said. "They hit groups. I told them not to." They had meant to disperse, were in the process of doing so as things heated up, as rebel forces were routing government troops from buildings, by setting them afire. Which led to some incredibly spectacular photographs of this tribal, civil war situation in Libya.
Final frames . . . this photo of a <span class=

Final frames . . . this photo of a Lybian rebel fighter was taken by Chris Hondros, who was killed during an attack by Gaddafi's forces. Photo: Chris Hondros

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