A Pulitzer Prize winner, Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering the clashes in Kandahar’s Spin district. (Image by Mumbairt - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 - Wikimedia Commons)
The body of Danish Siddiqui, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photojournalist who was killed in Afghanistan this month, was badly mutilated while in the custody of the Taliban, officials said this past week.
The revelation comes amid concern that the fighting in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have carried out an aggressive military offensive since the United States withdrew nearly all its troops, has become increasingly brutal as peace talks have stalled.
Siddiqui, 38, an Indian national who took some of the most memorable news photographs from South Asia in recent years, was killed on the morning of July 16, when Afghan commandos he had accompanied to Spin Boldak, a border district recently captured by the Taliban, were ambushed. Initial photographs from the scene showed Siddiqui’s body with multiple wounds but fully intact.
But by that evening, when the body was handed over to the Red Cross and transferred to a hospital in the southern city of Kandahar, it had been badly mutilated, according to two Indian officials and two Afghan health officials there. The mutilation was reported by an Indian website, Newslaundry, in the days after Siddiqui’s killing.
The New York Times reviewed multiple photographs, some provided by Indian officials and others taken by Afghan health workers at the hospital, that showed Siddiqui’s body had been mutilated. One Indian official said that the body had nearly a dozen bullet wounds and that there were tire marks on Siddiqui’s face and chest.
One of the health officials in Kandahar said that the body, along with Siddiqui’s press vest, had reached the city’s main hospital around 8 p.m. on the day he was killed. His face was unrecognizable, said the official, who added that he could not determine exactly what had been done to the body.
A Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the insurgents, saying that they were under orders to treat bodies with respect and to hand them over to local elders or the Red Cross. But the Taliban were in control of the area at the time, and some photographs showed what appeared to be the group’s fighters standing around Siddiqui’s body, which was then intact.c.2021 The New York Times Company