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'Restrepo' Director And Veteran Conflict Photographer Killed In Libya

An award-winning photojournalist known for his incredible work in war zones died today in the Libyan city of Misrata, according to two of the organizations he worked for.

Tim Hetherington was killed when a mortar struck near where he was working, Vanity Fair and Panos Pictures ( via CNN) say.

[Update: In the same attack, NPR has confirmed that American photojournalist Chris Hondros, who's covered most conflicts since the late '90s, was also killed. A spokesperson for Getty Images, his employer, said they are working with Hondros' family and friends to bring his body back to the U.S.]

Hetherington, from the U.K., last year co-directed the acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film Restrepo, which documented the lives of a platoon of American soldiers serving at a remote outpost in Afghanistan. A contributing photographer for Vanity Fair, his biography says that Hetherington's interests lie "in creating diverse forms of visual communication and his work has ranged from multi-screen installations, to fly-poster exhibitions, to handheld device downloads." He turned 41 this year.

Hetherington's most recent NPR appearance was on Talk of the Nation in February. He and Restrepo co-director Sebastian Junger discussed that film. As he told All Things Consideredlast June, he broke his leg while out on a patrol the U.S. solders were conducting. The platoon had to get off a mountainside before dawn, and Hetherington had to walk despite the injury.

Other journalists were also hit in the incident today in Misrata. And there have been multiple reports via Twitter and other outlets that another may have died.

Among those at the scene was Chris Hondros, a 41-year-old American, who "has covered most of the world's major conflicts since the late 1990s, including wars in Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the West Bank, Iraq, and Liberia," his biography reads. [ Update:Getty Images, Hondros' current employer, confirmed that Hondros was killed in the mortar attack.] "His work has appeared on the covers of magazines such as Newsweek and The Economist, and on the front pages of most major American newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times."

Photojournalist Chris Hondros poses with a a former Liberian government soldier in Monrovia, Liberia, in 2005.
Getty Images / Getty Images
Getty Images
Photojournalist Chris Hondros poses with a a former Liberian government soldier in Monrovia, Liberia, in 2005.

In March 2007, Hondros talked with with Morning Editionabout one memorable image he took in Iraq: a little girl, covered in the blood of her dead parents. "We share a huge visual memory bank, mostly through painting and other images in history," he said. "I think when a modern photograph taps into those, sometimes very subliminally, it makes people respond." There's a gripping audio slideshow with that Morning Editionreport.

Update at 3:25 p.m. ET. More Details And Word About The Others.

The Washington Post reports that its Cairo Bureau Chief, Leila Fadel, happened to be at the hospital where the injured were taken. The Post says that according to Fadel:

"Hetherington appeared to be bleeding heavily from his leg and was very pale, she said. About 15 minutes after his arrival, doctors in the tent pronounced him dead, she said. ...

"About 10 minutes later, another ambulance brought Hondros and other photographers to the hospital. Hondros had suffered a severe head injury. ... Two other photographers, Guy Martin, a British citizen, and Michael Christopher Brown, also suffered shrapnel wounds, but the severity of their injuries was unclear."

Update at 4:48 p.m. ET. The Hetherington Family:

The family of Tim Hetherington has just issued this statement:

It is with great sadness we learned that our son and brother photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington was killed today in Misrata, Libya by a rocket-propelled grenade. Tim will be remembered for his amazing images and his Academy Award nominated documentary "Restrepo" which he co-produced with his friend Sebastian Junger.

Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict. He will be forever missed.

Update at 6:09 p.m. ET. Chris Hondros Was Also Killed In The Attack:

Getty Images told NPR that veteran conflict photographer Chris Hondros also died in today's mortar attack. Jodi Einhorn, a spokesperson for Getty Images, Hondros' employer, sent this statement to NPR's Allison Keyes:

Getty Images is deeply saddened to confirm the death of Staff Photographer Chris Hondros who has died of injuries while covering events in Libya on April 20th. Chris never shied away from the front line having covered the world's major conflicts throughout his distinguished career and his work in Libya was no exception. We are working to support his family and his fiancée as they receive this difficult news, and are preparing to bring Chris back to his family and friends in the United States. He will be sorely missed.

Note that we've updated the headline and lede of this post to reflect the news.

Update at 6:49 p.m. ET. Conflict Photography:

Our multimedia team has put together photo galleries of the work of Hondros and Hetherington:

Update at 7:18 p.m. ET. The Scene At The Hospital:

All Things Considered talked to James Hider, a correspondent in Libya for the Times of London. He described the scene at the hospital, where Hetherington was treated:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

James Hider on ATC

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.