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Friday, April 4

Kathy Gannon, 60 year old Canadian AFPAK journalist and author, survives being shot with AK-47 almost at point blank range

The shooting took place today in Khost, Afghanistan. CBS News reports that Kathy's in stable condition and talking with medical personnel.  A few years ago someone wrote that given all she'd survived in Afghanistan she'd obviously learned to make few mistakes.  But the shooting was an inside job.

An Afghan cop, part of the contingent of police and Afghan troops tasked with guarding a convoy of election workers delivering ballots, walked up to Kathy's car in the convoy and opened fire.  The person sitting next to her in the back seat, German photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, 48, also an old Afghan hand, was killed instantly by the gunfire.

According to the Beeb's report on the shooting:
The two journalists had been visiting Tanay district in Khost province with an official from the Independent Election Commission, an interior ministry source earlier told the BBC.

The district lies on the border with Pakistan's Waziristan region, with the Pakistan-based Haqqani network strong and influential in the area.
 If I recall this makes the sixth journalist who's been murdered in recent days in Afghanistan.  The terrorists have been wreaking more murder and mayhem than usual ahead of tomorrow's presidential election; I guess they want to kill as many journalists as they can in the attempt to scare off others from covering the election.

However, there were two men in the front seat of Kathy's car -- the driver, and an AP Television freelance journalist. The shooter didn't aim at them. After firing on the two women he surrendered to the other police guarding the convoy.
 
Anyone who's followed the Afghan War for years would be familiar with Kathy's byline on Associated Press reports.  Her title is "AP Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan."  In 1986 she sold most of her possessions -- there weren't many, as she drily recalled -- then struck off to become a foreign correspondent for AP. With many places in the world to choose to cover she picked Afghanistan, although she had no idea at the time that reporting on the country would become her life's work.
  
It turned out her decision made her a unique eyewitness to history. And she was the only Western journalist (female or male) who was allowed by the Taliban to enter Kabul after the 9/11 attack on the USA.  According to the CBS report she's based right now in Islamabad. But Afghanistan is her home.  For almost 30 years she's been there to record it all, as the country transformed from Soviet rule to Taliban rule then became a battleground for the U.S.-led war against global terrorist organizations.

She talked about her observations as a reporter in a 2006 book she authored I for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror in Afghanistan.

She also took the United Nations to task "for refusing to confront the Taliban on women's rights, thereby abetting its repressive edicts," according to a review of the book.

The CBS report features a 2011 photograph of her showing a group of Afghan schoolgirls how to work a smartphone. She looks like anyone's neighbor in Western suburbia, dressed for gardening.  Nope; no burqa, no head scarf. It's a beautiful photo; I hope you'll go to CBS News website to see it; they deserve the click for their excellent report, which includes an interview with the freelance journalist who witnessed the shooting.

And I hope you'll say a prayer for Kathy's fast and full recovery.  From the photo she looks like a pretty tough old bird, although 60 isn't considered that old nowadays unless one lives for decades in a place such as Afghanistan.  But I think if the shooter had missed she would have grabbed the gun and broken it on his head.

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