Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday said that India strongly condemns the killing of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui in Afghanistan. Speaking at an event of the United Nations Security Council, Shringla raised concerns about violence against civilians during armed conflict.

Siddiqui, who worked for Reuters news agency, was killed while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and the Taliban on Friday. The 38-year-old was in the border town of Spin Boldak with Afghan security forces when he was caught in Taliban crossfire, an Afghan commander told Reuters.

“The dharma-based norms for armed conflict in ancient India were founded on the principle of humanity and humanitarian norms and had many rules protecting civilians during conflict,” Shringla said at the UN. “High importance was attached to distinguishing combatants and non-combatants during armed conflicts.”

Earlier on Friday, foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters that India’s ambassador in Kabul was in touch with Afghan authorities on the matter. “We are keeping his family informed of the developments,” he said.

Siddiqui’s father Mohammad Akhtar Siddiqui said that he was informed about his son’s death by Reuters. The foreign ministry has informed him that they were trying to trace the journalist’s body, Mohammad Akhtar Siddiqui said, The Indian Express reported. He urged the authorities to expedite the process.

“The last time I spoke to him was the day before yesterday,” Mohammad Akhtar Siddiqui said. “He didn’t seem to be unsafe and he seemed very confident about his work.”

Taliban denies role

The Taliban denied any role in Siddiqui’s death, News18 reported on Friday. It also expressed regret that journalists were entering the war zone “without intimation to us”.

“We are sorry for Indian journalist Danish Siddiqui’s death,” its spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said. “We are not aware during whose firing the journalist was killed. We do not know how he died.”

Mujahid added: “Any journalist entering the war zone should inform us. We will take proper care of that particular individual.”

Tributes pour in

Meanwhile, tributes to Siddiqui and his work poured in from around the world.

The Joe Biden administration in the United States mourned the death of the photojournalist. “We are deeply saddened to hear that Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering fighting in Afghanistan,” said Jalina Porter, principal deputy spokesperson at the US Department of State. “Siddiqui was celebrated for his work often in the world’s most urgent and challenging news stories and for creating striking images that conveyed a wealth of emotion and the human face behind the headlines.”

The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee also condemned the killing and called on the the country’s government to investigate the incident. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan also demanded an inquiry and said Siddiqui’s death was a “painful reminder of mounting dangers faced by media” in the country.

Several Indian political leaders also offered their condolences. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi urged the Modi government to bring Siddiqui’s body back to India at the earliest.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her counterparts in Kerala and Punjab, Pinarayi Vijayan and Amarinder Singh, also expressed grief.

“He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist whose photographs were emblematic of the upheavals that our country witnessed in the past few years,” Banerjee said.

Vijayan said Siddiqui’s work underscored his commitment to humanity, while Singh called him “an outstanding journalist”.