Anton Hammerl is believed to be dead, shot by pro-Gadaffi forces in Libya on the day he and three other journalists went missing.
James Foley and Clare Morgana Gillis, the US journalists released by Libya earlier this week and thought to have been with Hammerl when he disappeared, witnessed the actions that killed the South African photojournalist.
A statement from his family, who’ve been desperately waiting for news of his fate, was issued late last night.
“At 10pm BST this evening we received devastating news regarding Anton Hammerl.
“On April 5, 2011 Anton was shot by Gadaffi’s forces in an extremely remote location in the Libyan desert. According to eyewitnesses, his injuries were such that he could not have survived without medical attention.
“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 Gadaffi loyalists have known Anton’s fate all along and chose to cover it up.
“Thank you so much for your love and support.”
In an interview with the Global Post, the paper for which Foley works, the journalists said they When they first arrived at the front lines, they ”heard reports that pro-Gaddafi forces were dug in nearby”. They chose to leave their car “before the rebel soldiers they were traveling alongside pushed ahead.
But as the rebels began to retreat, with Gadaffi forces in full pursuit, they began 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 told the Global Post.
Although the journalists dropped to the ground, the Libyan soldiers continued firing. “Hammerl, who was closest to the fighting, cried out for help. Foley called out, ‘Are you OK?’, the report said.
“No,” was Hammerl’s only reply.
‘After the third barrage of fire, Hammerl’s cries ended.
The South African National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) said in a statement that it was “extremely devastated by the tragic news of the death of Anton Hammer”l.
“He was a superb photographer and a brave journalist who always went out a thousand extra miles to bring home news and images to the world. South Africa ‘s journalistic community joins Anton’s family and friends in mourning his death.”