A Reuters photographer was left behind in July during an Afghan military retreat, according to an Afghan general, and was likely killed by the Taliban.
Danish Siddiqui, a 38-year-old Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist, was killed on July 16 along with two other Afghan commanders after the military retreated in a fight to take a town near Afghanistan’s border, Reuters reported.
Major-General Haibatullah Alizai, the commander of Afghanistan’s Special Operations Corps who hosted Siddiqui at the time, said Siddiqui and the two commanders were mistakenly left behind after the soldiers believed the three already retreated. Four other soldiers backed Alizai’s account.
Saddiqui and the two commanders reportedly did not retreat and were instead at a local mosque where the photographer was getting treated for a shrapnel wound.
Siddiqui’s body was reportedly found mutilated in Taliban custody. His body was recovered and identified after photos on social media were compared to his body by Reuters and Forensic Equity’s ballistics expert Philip Boyce.
It is “evident that he was shot multiple further times after he was killed,” Boyce stated. Other reports claimed Siddiqui’s body was also run over by a vehicle, according to Reuters.
The Taliban denies killing the photojournalist and says the body was in that condition when it was found.
Siddiqui left behind two young children and his wife. His death has devastated the global journalism community and Reuters employees.
“If we don’t go, who will?” Siddiqui told his boss when he asked to cover Afghanistan in the final month leading up to the country’s collapse.
Siddiqui reassured his family and friends he would know when to leave the country, and he told them Reuters did a risk assessment before he went into the field.
Reuters has multiple top editors who approve risky assignments, but Reuters employees have questioned how this call was made.
Some employees believe that his assignment was the right move, while others believe Saddiqui should have been pulled out sooner. Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said she takes “full responsibility for the decision.”
An internal and external review is underway for the events and decisions leading up to Siddiqui’s death.