Journalist killed in bomb attack on Afghan convoy
A VETERAN British war correspondent was killed along with a US marine when a bomb was exploded near to their convoy in Afghanistan yesterday.
The death of 'Sunday Mirror' journalist Rupert Hamer brought the number of reporters killed in Afghanistan to 18, according to figures kept by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
"Tragically it was a matter of time," former British forces commander Col Richard Kemp said. "Our journalists, the same as other journalists in Afghanistan or Iraq, face exactly the same risks as our soldiers face out there."
Mr Hamer (39) and photographer Philip Coburn (43), from Larne in Co Antrim, were accompanying a US Marine patrol at the weekend when their vehicle was hit by a makeshift bomb near the village of Nawa in Helmand, the British Defence Ministry said.
Mr Coburn works for the 'Sunday Mirror' and was embedded with the US Marine Corps when the vehicle he was in was hit by a bomb near Nawa in Helmand.
Mr Coburn's brother, Nigel, said he understood his brother had to have one of his legs amputated.
Mr Coburn was seriously wounded in the explosion but remains in stable condition, the military said.
A US marine was also killed in the blast, the ministry said.
The Defence Ministry originally said that an Afghan soldier had been killed in the attack, but later released a revised statement saying that "there were no Afghan nationals killed or injured in this incident". The statement cited new information gathered from the field, but gave no further details. The statement also said that five marines were left badly hurt. It did not elaborate on their condition.
The past year has been particularly deadly for those fighting the war and those covering it. Canadian journalist Michelle Lang died late last year while embedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
An Afghan translator for the 'New York Times', Sultan Munadi, was killed in September during a rescue operation.
The 'Sunday Mirror' said that Mr Hamer and Mr Coburn had only flown to the region on New Year's Eve and were embedded with the American military. Their trip was to have lasted for a month, the paper said.
Both were veterans of reporting from conflict zones.
It was Mr Hamer's fifth excursion to Afghanistan, while Mr Coburn had previously reported from Afghanistan, Iraq and Rwanda.