Updated | 8:34 p.m. Tim Hetherington, renowned war photographer and director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo,” was killed amid intense fighting in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata on Wednesday, according to news reports and the accounts of human rights organizations.
Chris Hondros, a photographer for Getty Images, was also killed in the attack, dying of severe brain trauma within a few hours, according to a statement by Getty Images co-founder and CEO Jonathan Klein. “Chris never shied away from the front line and his work in Libya was no exception,” Klein said. “Chris was a true hero in his dedication and commitment to bringing the important news and the stories of those less fortunate to us all — from far off places.”
Two other photographers working beside Hetherington and Hondros — Guy Martin and Michael Christopher Brown — were also wounded. Martin was said to have suffered severe injuries and was in critical condition in a hospital in Misrata.
Hetherington, a 40-year-old British-born New Yorker who worked as a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in an attack by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Human Rights Watch said.
Gadhafi loyalists have been bombarding the rebel-held city in northwest Libya virtually since the start of the uprising, and observers have warned of a grave shortage of basic medical supplies and food, including baby formula. Opposition leaders have also criticized the NATO campaign for failing to respond quickly enough to the regime’s attacks on civilians. As Hetherington wrote in his last Twitter update on Tuesday: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”
Hetherington was known for covering the world’s forgotten conflicts, including in Afghanistan, the subject of his film “Restrepo,” which won the Grand Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award.
“Tim Hetherington was much more than a war reporter,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a tribute on the organization’s website. “He had an extraordinary talent for documenting, in compassionate and beautiful imagery, the human stories behind the headlines.”
Hetherington is the third journalist killed in Libya since the start of the conflict there, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which has documented more than 80 attacks on the press since February. Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the committee, said in a statement: “The Libyan conflict is proving to be an extremely dangerous story for journalists to cover.”
Along with French filmmaker Magali Charrier, Hetherington produced a disquieting short film earlier this year encompassing his 10 years of war reporting. The 19-minute video, named “Diary,” pieces together the disparate sights and sounds of Hetherington’s travels through war-torn regions — from Liberia to Afghanistan — with a haunting, almost ethereal quality. Hetherington described the film at the time as “a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting.”