UPDATE: Photojournalist Anton Hammerl Died April 5; Gaddafi Loyalists Covered Up His Death
The family of photojournalist Anton Hammerl has confirmed that he died on April 5, The Star and iol report. Hammerl’s family learned late Thursday night that Hammerl was “shot by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in an extremely remote location in the Libyan desert” and that, according to eyewitnesses, “his injuries were such that he could not have survived without medical attention.”
Noting that Gaddafi loyalists had “cover[ed] up” the truth of his fate for over a month, Hammerl’s family has issued this statement:
Words are simply not enough to describe the unbelievable trauma the Hammerl family is going through.
From the moment Anton disappeared in Libya we have lived in hope as the Libyan officials assured us that they had Anton.
It is intolerably cruel that Gaddafi loyalists have known Anton’s fate all along and chose to cover it up.
Thank you so much for your love and support.
Hammerl, who had South African and Austrian citizenship, was one of five foreign journalists captured by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi in April. Yesterday, four journalists — James Foley, Clare Morgana Gillis, Manu Brabo and Nigel Chandler– were released.
On Thursday night at a Tripoli hotel, Gillis and Foley told the Global Post that Hammerl was shot by Gaddafi troops on the outskirts of the city of Brega:
When [the three journalists and Spanish photographer Brabo] first arrived at the front lines, the journalists heard reports that pro-Gaddafi forces were dug in nearby. The reporters decided to exit the car before the rebel soldiers they were traveling alongside pushed ahead.
But within seconds, the rebels whipped around in full retreat. In front of them — barreling towards Foley and the other journalists — were two armored Libyan military trucks carrying 10 pro-Gaddafi troops. They were all firing AK-47s over their heads.
“It all happened in a split second. We thought we were in the crossfire. But, eventually, we realized they were shooting at us. You could see and hear the bullets hitting the ground near us,” Foley said.
All four journalists immediately dropped to the ground, diving to the side of the road. But the Libyan soldiers, who were coming over the hill, continued to fire, Foley said. Hammerl, who was closest to the fighting, cried out for help. Foley called out, “Are you OK?”/p>
“No,” was Hammerl’s only reply. After the third barrage of fire, Hammerl’s cries ended.
“I thought instinctively that we were all going to get killed, so I jumped up to surrender and screamed that we were journalists,” Foley said.
Gillis, Foley and Brabo were captured and saw Hammerl lying in the sand. He had been shot in the abdomen and was bleeding profusely, says the Global Post.
While in detention, the three journalists did not speak about Hammerl as they feared doing so could further endanger them. After being released, Foley and Gillis told Hammerl’s wife, Penny, of what had happened to him by telephone. Said Foley:
“Now that we’re free, it’s our moral imperative to tell the story of this great journalist and father.”
For those who signed the petition demanding the release of the captured journalists, thank you for your support.
To Anton Hammerl’s family, please know that many around the world are thinking about him and that he will not be forgotten.
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