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NPR Photographer And Translator Killed In Afghanistan

David Gilkey, an award-winning photojournalist, was killed along with Afghan translator Zabihullah Tamanna on Sunday.

Last updated on June 5, 2016, at 10:04 p.m. ET

Posted on June 5, 2016, at 7:42 p.m. ET

Journalist David Gilkey was killed Sunday in Afghanistan along with translator Zabihullah Tamanna, NPR announced.

Facebook: NPR

Gilkey was the first civilian American journalist to be killed in Afghanistan since U.S. military involvement began in 2001, based on records kept by the Committee to Protect Journalists. He and Tamanna, an Afghan translator, were traveling with an Afghan army unit when their convoy came under fire, according to NPR. Two other NPR journalists in their group were unharmed.

Monika Evstatieva/NPR

Zabihullah Tamanna and David Gilkey

Since 9/11, Gilkey had covered war and conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq.

David Gilkey/NPR / Via

"He was devoted to helping the public see these wars and the people caught up in them. He died pursuing that commitment," NPR senior vice president of news and editorial director Michael Oreskes said in a statement. "As a man and as a photojournalist, David brought out the humanity of all those around him. He let us see the world and each other through his eyes."

Gilkey also worked in Sudan, Gaza, Haiti, South Africa, Rwanda, and the Balkans. In 2010, he worked on an NPR investigation, "Brain Wars: How the Military is Failing the Wounded" that won a George Polk award. He was named still photographer of the year in 2011 by the White House Photographers Association.

Gilkey's photographs were known for capturing humanity in times of crisis. Earlier this year, he spent five days and nights in a Doctors Without Borders compound in South Sudan.

David Gilkey/NPR / Via

Jarl Mohn, NPR president and CEO, said in a statement the company was devastated by the loss of Gilkey and Tamanna. Their deaths highlight the important work of journalists, he added.

"They help us understand beyond the headlines and see the humanity in others," Mohn said in a statement.

In addition to his work as a translator, Tamanna also worked as a reporter and photographer.

Zabihullah Tamanna also freelanced as a reporter and photographer for Anadolu Agency. See his work on @ZTamanna.

In their most recent piece, the NPR team followed an elite Afghan commando unit as they worked under air support from the U.S. military to fight the Taliban.

David Gilkey/NPR / Via

In 2010, Gilkey spoke about the difficult work of photographing death and destruction after spending two weeks in Haiti following the massive earthquake.

View this video on YouTube

"It's not just reporting. It's not just taking pictures," he said. "It's do those visuals, do the stories, do they change somebody's mind enough to take action?

"If we're doing our part, you know, it gets people to do their part. Hopefully."

Secretary of State John Kerry said their deaths were a "grim reminder" of the danger still facing Afghanistan.

In a statement released Sunday, Kerry applauded Gilkey for his courage in telling the stories of people in Afghanistan as well as around the world.

"He was ‎more than a gifted photographer. He was a gifted story‎teller, who understood the power of imagery to enhancing the power of understanding. He will be sorely missed."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.