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UPDATE: Award-winning photographers Hetherington, Hondros killed in Libya

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | 4:19 p.m. CDT; updated 11:35 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MISRATA, Libya — Two award-winning photographers, who devoted their lives to shedding light on international conflict and world events, were killed Wednesday in the besieged city of Misrata while covering battles between rebels and Libyan government forces.

Two other Western photographers were wounded.

British-born Tim Hetherington, co-director of the documentary "Restrepo" about U.S. soldiers on an outpost in Afghanistan, was killed inside the only rebel-held city in western Libya, said his U.S.-based publicist, Johanna Ramos Boyer.

Chris Hondros, a New York-based photographer for Getty Images, was also killed.

The two other photographers — Guy Martin and Michael Christopher Brown — were treated for shrapnel wounds, doctors said.

The city has come under weeks of relentless shelling by government troops.

Hetherington, 41, was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2010 documentary film "Restrepo." The film was co-directed by Sebastian Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm."

"Restrepo" tells the story of the 2nd Platoon of Battle Company in the 173rd Airborne Combat Team on its deployment in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. The title refers to the platoon outpost, named after a popular soldier, Juan Restrepo, who was killed early in the fighting.

The film was shown at the True/False Film Festival in 2010. Festival co-director David Wilson met Hetherington briefly at the Sundance Film Festival that year and remembered him as "incredibly gracious and easygoing and a pleasure to work with as we made arrangements to show (Restrepo)."

Hetherington had planned to come to the festival with his film, but bad weather on the East Coast grounded him. So organizers set up a live interview with him via Skype at the Missouri Theatre. "Some of the soldiers from the film had driven in for the screening and came up on stage," Wilson said via e-mail. He recalled it as a "great Q&A."

Wilson said Hetherington's death was "a huge loss for both the journalism community at large and the documentary community in particular."

Hetherington was born in Liverpool and studied literature and photojournalism at Oxford University. Known for his gutsy ability to capture conflict zones on film, his credits included working as a cameraman on the documentaries "Liberia: An Uncivil War" and "The Devil Came on Horseback." He also produced pieces for ABC News' "Nightline."

Hetherington's photos appeared in Vanity Fair magazine, where he worked as a contributing photographer. He won the World Press Photo of the Year award for his coverage of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley.

Hondros, 41, has covered conflict zones since the late 1990s including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, and his work has appeared in major magazines and newspapers around the world.

Hondros studied English literature at North Carolina State before receiving a master's degree from Ohio University.

He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 in spot news photography for his work in Liberia, and he won the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 2006 for his work in Iraq. In 2007, he was named a "Hero of Photography" in American Photo magazine. Much of his work has also been honored by Word Press Photo, the Visa Pour L'Image in France, Pictures of the Year International, and the John Faber award from the Overseas Press Club, according to the Pictures of the Year International website.

"He was one of the ones who really personified a sense of the journalist's role to shed light on the areas of conflict and bring the injustices of the world to light for others," Rick Shaw, director for the Pictures of the Year International, said.

Shaw met Hondros in 2008 at the MU School of Journalism, when Hondros was a member of the judging panel for the Magazine Division of Pictures of the Year International.

Because the panelists worked long days together, they grew to know one another on a personal and professional level.

"He was very articulate about reviewing the work, had a great spirit about everything he did, and despite the long hours and the tremendous volume of work to review, he approached it with enthusiasm and spirit," Shaw said. "He was complimentary on the really good work. He was diplomatic of work that could be better. It really reflected his personality."

Shaw said Hondros was extraordinarily passionate about photo journalism.

"The level of talent that Chris had is unmatched by 99 percent of the photographers in the world," he said.

Two other journalists have been killed in the Libyan conflict, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. An unknown gunman killed Mohammed al-Nabbous, founder of the online Libya Al-Hurra TV, in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in March 19. Cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was shot when his Al-Jazeera crew was ambushed near Benghazi on March 13.

Missourian staff contributed to this report


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