British journalist killed in Gaddafi mortar attack

An award-winning British photographer was one of two journalists killed in an apparent mortar attack while covering the Libyan conflict in the besieged city of Misrata.

Tim Hetherington, an Oscar-nominated film-maker and conflict photographer, is reported to have been killed by a rocket-propelled grenade while capturing images of fighting between Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and Libyan rebels.

American colleague Chris Hondros, 41, was also killed in the attack, while a number of other journalists were injured by flying shrapnel. The New York-based photographer, who worked for Getty Images, died after being seriously injured, according to the company’s director of photography, Pancho Bernasconi.

The deaths came as Gaddafi’s forces continued to pound Misrata, the last rebel-held city in western Libya which has come under weeks of relentless shelling. An estimated 300 civilians have died in the attacks.

Hetherington wrote on his Twitter profile, saying: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Gaddafi forces. No sign of Nato.”

Other journalists also hit in the attack including British photographer Guy Martin, who was hit by shrapnel and was being treated at a hospital in the city. New York-based photographer Michael Christopher Brown, was also treated for shrapnel injuries.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to allied leaders to emphasise the need to protect civilians by placing continued pressure on the Gaddafi regime. In a series of telephone calls with US president Barack Obama, Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Qatar’s PM Hamad bin Jassim, he also outlined the support the UK is giving to the Interim Transitional National Council in the opposition stronghold Benghazi.

A team of British Army officers is being deployed to help rebels co-ordinating attacks on the dictator’s army and the government has pledged £2 million to help thousands of stranded civilians flee Misrata by boat.

Hetherington, 41, who was born in Liverpool and studied Literature at Oxford University, was a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair magazine. He was best known for his work in Afghanistan, and won the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year Award in 2007. His work there led to his creation of the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo.

Journalist and film-maker James Brabazon, a close friend of Hetherington, told BBC2’s Newsnight: “Tim was a leading light of his generation – it’s really not an exaggeration to say that his eye and his ability, what he did, was unique. His reportage really defined a generation of covering conflict.”

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