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(AFP Photo / Issouf Sanogo)

In front of dozens of witnesses, Central African Republic troops lynch a man they’ve accused of belonging to the former Seleka rebellion, February 5, 2014. An AFP photographer and several other journalists were present at the scene. The photographer sent 17 images of the attack and another three of the attempted lynching of a policeman.

The captions on the more violent photos carried a “Graphic content” warning to alert clients to their disturbing nature.

“These are extremely brutal photos, but it was necessary to send them out on the wire,” explains Sylvain Estibal, AFP’s photo chief for Europe and Africa. “They say a lot about the state of the Central African Republic. The perpetrators of this lynching had just been reintegrated into a newly restored national army. They did this just after hearing a speech from the head of state. It’s very serious.”

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(AFP Photo / Issouf Sanogo)

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(AFP Photo / Issouf Sanogo)

Only three of the original images sent by the photographer were deemed too graphic for the wire and were not transmitted. “AFP’s policy is to not show violence for its own sake,” Estibal adds. “Before all else, a photo must provide information. If we can convey the same information with a less-violent photo then we will choose that one. For example, we wondered about transmitting the close-up of the victim – still alive at that moment – being kicked in the head. In the end we decided to do so because the photo shows that this is a lynching, that the man was alive to begin with and it captures the rage against him.”

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(AFP Photo / Issouf Sanogo)

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(AFP Photo / Issouf Sanogo)