Afghan National Army soldiers keep watch in Dand-e-Ghori district in Baghlan province on March 15, 2016, following weeks of heavy battles to recapture the area from Taliban militants. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)
Agence France-Presse chief photographer Shah Marai, 41, was among the dozens of people killed Monday in a suicide bombing in Kabul. Marai was one of nine journalists lost in a second blast that targeted those first at the scene.
Marai, a veteran photographer who had been working in his home country for 22 years, started at AFP as a driver. Those 22 years included 17 years of war, starting in 2001 when the United States removed the Taliban from power.
His coverage of Afghanistan did not shy away from the carnage, but he still found and dutifully captured moments of humanity, culture and beauty present in the people and the land.
The father of six had just celebrated the birth of his first daughter, Khadija, 15 days before his death.
“This is a devastating blow, for the brave staff of our close-knit Kabul bureau and the entire agency,” said Michele Leridon, Agence France-Presse’s global news director. “We can only honor the strength, courage, and generosity of a photographer who covered often traumatic, horrific events with sensitivity and consummate professionalism.”
“He was a gentle being, always smiling, always in a good mood. He was a tall man full of thoughtfulness,” said Polka’s director of photography, Dimitri Beck, who met Marai in Afghanistan in the early 2000s. “He was a great team leader. Always calm and serene, very professional. He was a great photographer in a country where news photography was a new thing at that time. His loss is a great one for the Afghan press. This attack is representative of the state of freedom in general and press freedom in particular in Afghanistan.”
Afghan men carry a wounded security guard at a foreign logistics company as smoke rises from the entrance gate at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul on July 2, 2013. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) Landslide-affected Afghan villagers wait for donated supplies in the Argo district in Badakhshan on May 4, 2014. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) An Afghan man who fell out of a walnut tree receives treatment at a hospital in Salang, north of Kabul on September 21, 2016. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) A French soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force walks during a patrol in the Shamali Plain, north of Kabul, on Aug. 25, 2008. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) Internally displaced Afghan children stand outside their mud shelters in a makeshift camp as winter approaches in Kabul on Dec. 4, 2012. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) An Afghan vendor sleeps beside a watermelon as he waits for customers at a fruit market in Kabul on July 24, 2013, during the holy month of Ramadan. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) Afghan men are seen through the shattered window of a car at the site of a suicide attack on a British Embassy vehicle along the Kabul-Jalalabad road in Kabul on Nov. 27, 2014. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) An Afghan day laborer pours a cup of tea while taking a break after loading coal onto a truck at a coal yard on the outskirts of Kabul on April 13, 2014. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) Female Afghan boxer Sadaf Rahimi, center, 19, takes part in a training session at Ghazi Stadium in Kabul on Jan. 27, 2016. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) An Afghan woman from the Uzbek ethnic group feeds pigeons in front of the shrine of Hazrat-i-Ali in Mazar-e Sharif on Feb. 28, 2007. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images) An Afghan boy looks on as he walks in Kabul on Feb. 7, 2011. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)