Photographer Tim Hetherington has been killed covering the escalating violence in the Libyan city of Misrata while three other western journalists have been injured.
Hetherington, 40, the British photographer and co-creator of Oscar-winning documentary Restrepo, was killed in Misrata on Wednesday. Hetherington is believed to be the first western journalist killed covering the Libyan conflict.
Chris Hondros, 41, a US Pulitzer prize-winner who works for Getty Images, and British photographer Guy Martin, who works for the Panos agency, were critically injured in the same incident, according to a New York Times report. The fourth photographer injured was reported by the New York Times to be Michael Christopher Brown, although his condition was not said to be life threatening.
Hetherington posted on Twitter on Tuesday: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."
According to colleagues at the scene, Hetherington and Hondros were among a group of about eight or 10 journalists reporting from the bridge on Tripoli Street in Misrata on Wednesday afternoon, regarded as the frontline between rebels and Gaddafi's forces.
When shooting broke out, the group split in two. Hetherington's group of five journalists took shelter against a wall, which was then hit by mortar or RPG fire.
Rushed to hospital, Hetherington died soon after arrival. Heavy explosions in Misrata continued into the evening.
André Liohn, a colleague of the photographers who said he was at the hospital in Misrata where the photojournalists were taken, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon: "Sad news Tim Hetherington died in Misrata now when covering the front line. Chris Hondros is in a serious status."
The death comes as foreign observers, including United Nations officials and press freedom bodies, voice growing concerns over violence against the media in Libya. Three journalists have now been killed in Libya since the conflict began in January.
The al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed when fighters ambushed his car as he travelled to the eastern city of Benghazi on 12 March. Mohammad Nabbous, the Libya al-Hurra TV reporter, was killed in a firefight seven days later in Benghazi.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said about 10 journalists have been killed covering the Arab spring uprisings this year – out of 14 deaths worldwide. The international criminal court warned Libyan authorities about the treatment of journalists in the country on Wednesday. Around 16 journalists are missing in the country, according to ICC prosecutor José Luis Moreno Ocampo.
The UN said on Wednesday that the Libyan government's reported use of cluster munitions and heavy weapons in Misrata may amount to war crimes, which the ICC has said it will investigate. Eight people, mostly civilians, were killed in the coastal city on Tuesday.
Liverpool-born Hetherington won numerous awards for his coverage of conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Liberia, and Nigeria.
His latest work, the war documentary following a platoon of US troops in Afghanistan, Restrepo, won the best documentary feature Oscar earlier this year. Hetherington co-directed Restrepo alongside journalist and author Sebastian Junger.