Tributes pour in for AFP photographer slain in Kabul

Shah Marai embraces colleagues Massoud Hossaini (L) and Lawrence Bartlett (R), after Hossaini won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012, at the AFP office in Kabul
AFP

Kabul (AFP) – Friends and colleagues of Shah Marai have reacted with shock and grief to news of the veteran AFP photographer’s death in Kabul on Monday.

Marai, who leaves behind six children, was one of at least nine journalists killed in twin suicide bomb attacks that rocked the Afghan capital. 

At least another 16 people were killed in the blasts.

Joining AFP in 1996 and rising to the position of chief photographer for the agency’s Kabul bureau, Marai was remembered for his dedication to his work and his friendship with many in the city’s close-knit journalist community. 

Here are some of the tributes from friends and colleagues on social media and elsewhere.

– Mahfouz Zubaide, BBC –

A childhood friend of Marai now working as a BBC producer in Kabul, Mahfouz Zubaide said he was a curious and talented journalist blessed with a “wonderful eye”. 

“Shah Marai was calm, smiling and positive. He was never scared of danger,” Zubaide wrote for the BBC website.

“We found ourselves both working for the media here in Kabul, always meeting at the sites of tragedy.

“He was also a friend to many others in Kabul’s journalistic community and we are all mourning him now.”

– Mujib Mashal, New York Times –

“On days like this, truth sucks. Truth hurts,” Mujib Mashal, a senior correspondent for the New York Times, wrote on Twitter. 

“Our friend, the great photographer Shah Marai, is among the dead of the second Kabul explosion this morning. He was doing his job, like he had over two decades.”

– Sediq Sediqqi, former government spokesman –

“NO, we can’t lose Marai, I am devastated,” former interior ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi wrote on Twitter.

– Kate Clark, Afghanistan Analysts Network –

“It’s unbearable. #Marai a friend and colleague since the 1990s,” tweeted Kate Clark, the co-director of AAN, a long-time friend of Marai and one of the premier foreign experts on Afghanistan.

– Christine Roehrs, Deutsche Presse-Agentur –

“This is devastating… @shahmarai has been fearlessly taking countless photographs of the Afghan war, often from up close and telling its story in a unique and moving way. What a loss,” tweeted Christine Roehrs, the Afghanistan and Pakistan bureau chief for German news agency DPA.

– Danielle Moylan, former aid worker –

Moylan, formerly based in Afghanistan with the Norwegian Refugee Council, tweeted that she had previously travelled with Marai to the eastern town of Jalalabad, where AFP was covering an influx of people displaced by the Islamic State presence in the area.

“He literally worked from sunrise to sunset to get the best photos for the story,” she wrote. “Another loss for #Afghanistan.”

– Harun Najafizada, journalist –

“When Sardar (was) killed in 14, invited @AFP Marai to talk about our friend on BBCNews, (he) accepted in difficult time,” wrote Harun Najafizada on Twitter, referring to the killing of AFP senior reporter Sardar Ahmad — one of Marai’s closest friends — in a Taliban attack in 2014.  

“His sad face visible,” he said of Marai, but added that despite his grief the photographer came through for the BBC. Najafizada added: “#RIP my friend.”

– Ahmad Shuja, analyst –

“This is so painful. So wrong. No words,” wrote Ahmad Shuja, a Fulbright scholar and veteran Afghan analyst, in a post on Twitter. 

– Michele Leridon, AFP – 

“This is a devastating blow, for the brave staff of our close-knit Kabul bureau and the entire agency,” AFP global news director Michele Leridon said in a statement Monday.

“We can only honour the extraordinary strength, courage, and generosity of a photographer who covered often traumatic, horrific events with sensitivity and consummate professionalism. 

“We also send our condolences to the families of other journalists killed in this terrible attack.”

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