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Body of Danish Siddiqui was mutilated in Taliban custody

Danish’s face was unrecognisable, said one local official, who added that he could not determine exactly what had been done to the body.

IANS | New Delhi |

The body of Danish Siddiqui, the Pulitzer-winning Reuters photojournalist who was killed in Afghanistan last month, was badly mutilated while in the custody of the Taliban, Afghan officials said, as per Afghan media reports.

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, media reports said.

Taliban fighters 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.

The New York Times reviewed multiple photographs, some provided by Indian officials and others taken by Afghan health workers at the hospital, which 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, media reports said.

As per media reports, one of the health officials in Kandahar said that the body, along with Siddiqui’s press vest, had reached the city’s main hospital at around 8 p.m. on the day he was killed.

His face was unrecognisable, said the official, who added that he could not determine exactly what had been done to the body.

There are conflicting reports about what happened on July 16, as Afghan special forces with whom Siddiqui was traveling tried to retake Spin Boldak.

Accounts from local officials, as well as Taliban members, suggest that Siddiqui and the Afghan unit’s commander were killed in a crossfire when their convoy was ambushed from multiple directions. Their bodies were left on the battlefield as the rest of the unit retreated, according to this version of events.

Some news outlets reported that Siddiqui might have been captured alive by the Taliban and then executed. Those reports could not be confirmed. One Indian official, however, said that some of Siddiqui’s wounds appeared to be from gunshots at close range.