British reporter Hamer and U.S. Marine are killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan

By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 11, 2010

KABUL -- A British journalist with the Sunday Mirror and a U.S. Marine were killed Sunday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in volatile southern Afghanistan, British officials and the reporter's newspaper said.

A photographer with the newspaper was seriously injured in the attack in Helmand province, the newspaper and British officials said. The U.S. military did not immediately identify the Marine who was killed while riding in the same vehicle.

The British Defense Ministry said that an Afghan soldier was also killed in the attack and that four U.S. Marines were wounded.

British press reports said the journalist, Rupert Hamer, 39, was the first British reporter killed covering the conflict in Afghanistan, now in its ninth year. The photographer was identified as Philip Coburn, 43, and initial reports said his injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

Hamer's death comes two weeks after a Canadian journalist, Michelle Lang, 34, was killed along with four Canadian soldiers by a roadside bomb near Kandahar, also in southern Afghanistan.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, "I was deeply saddened by this tragic news, and my heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues of Rupert and Philip."

"Their professionalism and commitment to our forces will not be forgotten," Brown said in a statement.

The Sunday Mirror said the two journalists left on New Year's Eve to embed with Marines and cover the American troop "surge" into Afghanistan. Hamer had been employed by the paper for a dozen years and was making his fifth trip to Afghanistan, the Mirror said, and he had also covered the war in Iraq. He leaves a wife and three children.

The paper said Hamer had helped organize a special Christmas edition of the newspaper that was flown out to British soldiers three weeks ago that included messages from their family members back home.

British Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth said in a statement that the two journalists had accompanied him on a recent trip to Afghanistan. "I got to know them well, and I was impressed by their hard work and professionalism," he said.

News of the reporter's death came on a bloody day in southern Afghanistan. Three Afghan aid workers employed by a German relief agency also were killed by a roadside bomb, in Uruzgan province, also in southern Afghanistan.

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