An Oscar-nominated journalist from Birkenhead has been killed in an attack of "indiscriminate" violence in the ongoing Libya conflict.
Tim Hetherington, 40, died on Wednesday in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Misrata, Libya’s third largest city, where Colonel Gaddafi has concentrated much of the recent assaults on rebels opposed to his regime.
Mr Hetherington was working for Vanity Fair magazine with colleague Chris Hondras, 41, a photographer for Getty Images based in New York, who also died. Two other journalists were injured, including Briton Guy Martin, 28, from the Panos Agency, who had to undergo eight hours of emergency surgery to repair shrapnel wounds to his abdomen.
In the last 24 hours, at least 15 civilians have been killed and more than 100 injured in Misrata, which is now divided into zones controlled by rebels bearing the full force of a siege by troops loyal to Col. Gaddafi. An estimated 400 civilians have been killed there since February.
The day before he died, Mr Hetherington posted on
Twitter: “In besieged city of Misrata. Indiscriminate
shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of Nato.”
James Brabazon, an award-winning documentary maker
for Channel Four’s Unreported World, had been in contact
with his friend right up until his death.
He said: “He was extremely talented, experienced and
dedicated. He went [to Libya] for humanitarian issues.
He went there to shed light on a very confusing situation.”
Mr Hetherington was born in Birkenhead in 1970 and
studied literature at Oxford University. He had a
distinguished career as a photographer, journalist
His film, 'Restrepo', about life with a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, was nominated for an Oscar and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival last year.
In 2007, his photograph of an exhausted soldier sinking into a bunker in Afghanistan was named the World Press Photo of the Year.
But Mr Hetherington saw his role as much more than a photographer. Speaking to photojournalist Michael Kamber after the release of Restrepo, he said: “If you are interested in photography then you are interested in something – in terms of mass communication – that is past. I am interested in reaching as many people as possible.”
Tributes have poured in from soldiers, journalists, photographers and film-makers from all over the world.
Danish director Janus Metz told the BBC: “Tim was an admirable guy in lots of ways and his work was certainly admirable. The person I met came across as an extremely warm-hearted, sympathetic, intelligent guy with huge integrity in his work.”
Mr Hetherington’s family released a statement through Vanity Fair. It read: “It is with great sadness that we learned our son, brother, photographer and film-maker Tim Hetherington was killed today in Misrata. Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict. He will be forever missed.”
The Libyan Government has expressed "sadness" over the deaths of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondras. Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said casualties of war were inevitable. "People die from our side, from their side, people get caught in the middle," he said.
By Chris Bradley, Website Editor
More JMU Journalism stories
Journalist and film-maker Tim Hetherington; YouTube: the makers of 'Restrepo' talk about life at war
© Tim Hetherington/Vanity Fair