British reporter, 2 others killed in Afghanistan blast
A British journalist is among three people who were killed Saturday when a U.S. military convoy hit an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan, the British military announced Sunday.
Sunday Mirror defence correspondent Rupert Hamer, 39, is the first British journalist to die covering the war in Afghanistan, the paper announced on its website.
Hamer was killed alongside a U.S. Marine and an Afghan soldier when the vehicle they were riding in was hit near the village of Nawa in Helmand province, according to Britain's Defence Ministry.
Photographer Philip Coburn, 43, and four other Marines were seriously wounded. According to the paper, Coburn is in serious but stable condition.
In a series of statements on its website, the paper said Hamer is survived by his wife, Helen, their three children ages 6, 5 and 19 months, and his father, Nick.
"(Hamer) was a fine, fearless, and skilled writer who joined the paper 12 years ago," said Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver.
"Affectionately known as Corporal Hamer in the office, he was a gregarious figure, a wonderful friend who was hugely popular with his colleagues. Above all he was devoted to his wife Helen and their three young children."
The news of Hamer's death comes just weeks after Michelle Lang was killed while on patrol with Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. Lang was the first Canadian journalist to die in the country.
Lang, 34, was reporting for the Calgary Herald when the armoured vehicle she was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device just south of Kandahar on Dec. 30. Four Canadian soldiers were also killed in the attack.
Hamer's death brings to 18 the number of reporters who have been killed in Afghanistan since Sept. 11, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
According to the Mirror, Hamer and Coburn had flown to the region on New Year's Eve and were to spend one month with Marines as they began their surge in southern Afghanistan.
The two had previously worked together in Afghanistan and Iraq. Coburn has worked for the Mirror for eight years.
"He is a consummate all-round journalist and brilliant photographer whose pictures grace any newspaper," Weaver said.
"He and Rupert made a dedicated team, working together around the world, sacrificing personal comfort countless times to record the reality of wars. We wish Phil a speedy recovery and send our warmest wishes to his partner and family."
According to Weaver, one of Hamer's last acts was to produce a special Christmas edition of the Sunday Mirror that was filled with messages from loved ones for British soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. It was flown to Afghanistan by the RAF three weeks ago.
Britain's Secretary of Defence Bob Ainsworth said the special paper was "very well received by troops on the ground."
Ainsworth said both men accompanied him on his most recent trip to Afghanistan, and he was impressed by their hard work and professionalism.
"My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues of both men at this extremely distressing time."
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised the two men for their "courage, skill and dedication to reporting from the front line."
With files from The Associated Press