Correspondent / behind the news

Behind the image

A Kurdish fighter walks with his child in the center of the Syrian border town of Kobane, known as Ain al-Arab, on January 28, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


Inside Kobane


"We've been waiting for two days to get into Kobane, ever since Kurdish fighters wrested back the town from IS jihadists. Finally, this morning, the Turkish authorities say they will allow us access for a few hours," writes AFP photographer Bulent Kilic. "When this all started, I was watching Kobane from the outside. The bombing, the fighting, it was like hell. After all this, to enter the city, for the fight to be over, that is powerful for me too."

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Above the fold

Killing in a media blackout

Friday 30 January 2015 - Eye witness

Nigerian refugee children carry wood in a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) refugee camp in Baga Sola by Lake Chad (AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU)

"This week my colleague Celia Lebur travelled to Chad's border with Nigeria to hear the tales of men and women who escaped what may be the worst atrocity in Boko Haram's six-year Islamist insurgency, the assault on Baga," writes AFP's bureau chief in Lagos, Phil Hazlewood. "The harrowing stories add to mounting eye-witness accounts that we've already been able to gather from Nigeria, pointing at killings on a mass scale in Baga. But the numbers - even now, a month later - are impossible to verify."

(AFP Photo / Sia Kambou)

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Ties that bind, after the story ends

Wednesday 28 January 2015 - Eye witness

Syrian rebels come under fire at the Krak des Chevaliers in June 2012 (AFP / DJILALI BELAID)

"If you don’t have complete faith in someone who is taking you across a dangerous border - if you have even the slightest doubt - you don’t go. That level of trust between journalist and source creates a powerful bond. And a sense of duty if they later turn to you for help," writes AFP's Djilali Belaid. "During my last mission in Syria, in June 2012, I crossed the border from north Lebanon to reach the crusader fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, a 1,000-year-old citadel captured by rebels at the start of the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad. If you get caught, you are dead. My main contact on the trip was a young man named Ahmad. He is 24 years old."

(AFP / Djilali Belaid)

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Nameless grave for a billionaire king

Wednesday 28 January 2015 - Eye witness

Mourners gather around the grave of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah at the Al-Oud cemetery in Riyadh on January 23, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED MASHHUR)

"The austere funeral of Saudi King Abdullah intrigued many a foreign observer," writes AFP's Mohammed Mashhur. "Strange and surprising to see one of the world’s richest monarchs, with an estimated fortune worth more than 18 billion dollars, laid to rest in a nameless grave. I wanted to take this picture for the sake of history, to show the world how we bury a king here in Saudi Arabia, without particular distinction, in the midst of people both rich and poor."

(AFP Photo / Mohammed Mashhur)

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On 'Survivors’ Street'

Tuesday 27 January 2015 - Eye witness

Holocaust survivor Shoshana Colmer, 95, on January 21, 2015 in her apartment in a building housing Holocaust survivors in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa as part of a project by the Israeli NGO Yad Ezer (A Helping Hand) (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)

"I did as I would with my grandmother. Pulled my chair right up beside her, and asked in a loud, slightly dumb voice, as if speaking to a child, 'Do you like it here, then?' 'The food is good,' she replied. Silence. 'In Auschwitz I weighed 23 kilos.' Silence. Over the course of an hour Shoshana Colmer dives into her memories. Without coming up for air," writes Daphne Rousseau, after meeting the residents of a community in northern Israel known as as "Survivors' Street".

(AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)

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I am a human kaleidoscope

Monday 26 January 2015 - Eye witness

A protester holds a placard reading in French 'l am Charlie, I am free, I am Lebanese' on January 10, 2015 at Samir Kassir Square in Beirut (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)

"On Saturday the 10th of January – on the eve of the historic unity march held in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks – two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a café in the Jabal Mohsen quarter of Tripoli, in north Lebanon," writes AFP's Rita Daou. "The attack left nine people dead and 37 wounded. Late that night, still hard at work, I received a phone call from a journalist friend. 'What? Still working?' she exclaimed. 'Go to bed my dear. No one will use your story. Tomorrow is the Paris march. No one gives a hoot about Jabal Mohsen'."

(AFP Photo / Ibrahim Chalhoub)

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A traveler comes home

Friday 23 January 2015 - Eye witness

jacques-ivoire-2.jpg

"Writing a profile of Jacques Lhuillery is like walking down a winding road, with many forks. Starting from the man I knew and discovering, with each new friend I speak to, with each hilarious or moving anecdote, a new Jacques, another faraway land, another of his lives of which I knew nothing."

The head of AFP’s Japan bureau, who died of cancer aged 61, learned to speak Dutch while living in Saudi Arabia. He was the star of the annual Mardi Gras carnival in a small town in the south Netherlands, and he played petanque with an African head of state over drinks of ‘pastis’. Jacques was devastated by the murder in Ivory Coast of his friend and colleague Jean Helene, and was himself gravely injured in a fire at his home in Nigeria. But he never lost the rambunctious sense of humour, the actor’s talent and brazen nerve that seemed to open doors wherever he went.

(Photo: AFP /Georges Gobet)

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Flying bulls in Manhattan

Wednesday 21 January 2015 - Eye witness

Joao Ricardo Vieira rides the bull 'Fun Size' during the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Monster Energy Buck off in New York on January 16, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD)

"I’ve worked for AFP for nearly 15 years, and I can say I’ve covered pretty much everything – but this was my first rodeo," writes AFP's Jewel Samad after covering the PBR 'Monster Energy Buck-Off', billed as a showdown between the best bull riders in the world. "I went there thinking it could make a nice little feature, but after the first few riders, I was hooked."

(AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

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From back-up to front seat

Tuesday 20 January 2015 - Eye witness

Sebastien Paquet (L) and Reda Khoucha beside an AFPTV van (Regis Doucet)

As elite police hunted for the Charlie Hebdo suspects, AFP’s Sebastien Paquet and Reda Khoucha spent two days on their tracks - sleeping rough, surviving on service station sandwiches, and barely speaking to their families. So far so normal, for journalists assigned to cover one of the most dramatic stories to rock France in recent years. Except neither are journalists. Both were part of a six-man team of video technicians who worked round-the-clock – and well outside their usual brief - in the aftermath of the January 7 Islamist shooting at the satirical weekly.

(Regis Doucet)

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