Award-winning war photographers killed in attack in Libya

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Tim Hetherington, an award-winning news photographer and co-director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo,” and Chris Hondros, a veteran war photographer for Getty Images, were killed Wednesday in an explosion in the Libyan city of Misurata, doctors and colleagues reported.

At least two other photojournalists were injured in the blast, which was believed to have been caused by a mortar round. The rebel-held city in western Libya has been under attack for several weeks by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi.

The wounded journalists included Michael Brown of the Corbis agency and Guy Martin of Panos Pictures. Hondros, 41, whose work appeared on the front page of Wednesday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times, had fallen into a coma after suffering a critical head wound and died several hours later at Misurata’s Hikma Hospital.

Doctors at the hospital said that seven rebel fighters and a Ukrainian doctor also were killed Wednesday in shellings.

Most of Misurata is in rebel hands, though it is ringed by Kadafi’s forces, which have superior firepower. The journalists had been working near the front lines with a local militiaman in an area contested by snipers and other fighters loyal to Kadafi. The journalists apparently were returning on foot to more secure territory when they were hit by the fire.


Photos: Images by Hetherington and Hondros

“We were trying to get to a safe place. It was too quiet. It felt dangerous,” said Guillermo Cervera, a freelance photojournalist who was a few yards away at the time of the blast. “I heard the whoosh of an explosion, and everybody was on the ground.”

Rebels pulled up in vehicles and took the photographers to Hikma Hospital, Cervera said. Mohammed Zawwam, a local journalist, said Hetherington had talked of wanting to help Misurata’s people and of doing a video project on the conflict.

“He was just a good guy, an amazing guy to me,” Zawwam said.

Hetherington was born in Liverpool, England, and studied literature at Oxford University, according to his website biography. His documentary, “Restrepo,” about a platoon of soldiers serving in Afghanistan, won the grand jury prize at Sundance Film Festival last year.

The New York-based Hondros has covered conflicts around the globe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Kashmir, Liberia and the West Bank since the late 1990s. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in spot news photography for his work in Liberia, and in 2006 he won the Robert Capa Gold Medal.