SIRTE, Libya, Oct. 3 (UPI) — Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans was killed by sniper fire in Libya while covering the government’s offensive against the Islamic State.
Oerlemans, a veteran news photographer, was working for the Belgian magazine Knack when he was shot in the chest in the city of Sirte, halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi. At the time of the shooting, Oerlemans was in the company of a militia from the nearby city of Misrata that is allied with Libya’s unity government. At least eight members of the militia were also killed in the fighting, said Mohammad Ghasri, spokesman for the pro-government command center in Sirte.
Oerlemans, of Amsterdam, Netherlands, was a freelance journalist in Libya working for several news outlets. He was captured by unidentified jihadists in Syria in 2012, and freed a week later by the Western-supported rebel group the Free Syrian Army. The militia that Oerlemans was with at the time of his death, the Misrata brigade, had launched an offensive against the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte, supported by U.S. airstrikes.
Hundreds of people used social media to extend condolences, including Eric Stratling, Dutch ambassador to Libya, who wrote: “Your photographs of Sirte, Libya and other places will live on forever.”
Yvette van Eechoud, a director at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic affairs, wrote, “Rest in peace Jeroen Oerlemans. Thank you for shining a light on the misery of others.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that at least 11 other journalists and one media worker have been killed in Libya since 1992.