2 renowned photojournalists killed in Libya

The Oscar-nominated British filmmaker and photojournalist Tim Hetherington and American war photographer Chris Hondros are killed while covering the fighting in Misrata, Libya.

Two acclaimed photojournalists were killed Wednesday while covering the fighting in Misrata, Libya.

Oscar-nominated director and photojournalist Tim Hetherington died in a mortar attack in the centre of Misrata, a rebel-held town in western Libya that has been under siege by forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi for weeks.

Tim Hetherington, shown here attending a New York City screening of Restrepo in February, was killed by a mortar attack Wednesday in Misrata, Libya. ((Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images))

Photojournalist Chris Hondros of the Getty photo agency was critically wounded in the same attack and later succumbed to his injuries, according to Getty's director of photography, Pancho Bernasconi.

Two other photojournalists suffered less serious injuries.

In 2011, Hetherington was nominated for an Academy Award for co-directing the film Restrepo, the story of the 2nd platoon of Battle Company in the 173rd Airborne Combat Team on its deployment in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. The title refers to the platoon outpost, which was named after a popular soldier, Juan Restrepo, who was killed early in the fighting.

The British-born Hetherington was also the winner of the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year honour.

A tweet under the name TimHetherington dated April 19 read: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by [Gadhafi] forces. No sign of NATO."

Chris Hondros of the Getty photo agency died of his wounds after an attack by Libyan government forces in Misrata. ((ChrisHondros.com))

"Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict," Hetherington's family said in a statement. "He will be forever missed."

Hondros was an award-winning war photographer who had covered many conflicts in Africa and the Middle East for magazines and newspapers around the world. The American's awards include World Press Photo honours and the Robert Capa Gold Medal, one of the highest prizes in war photography. He was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Desperate scenes in Misrata

The four photographers are the latest casualties of an increasingly desperate situation in Misrata. Aid groups say the city is facing a serious humanitarian crisis as food and medicine run short.

A Libyan rebel runs up a burning stairwell in Misrata on Wednesday. This photo was taken by Chris Hondros, who was killed shortly after sending the picture. ((Chris Hondros/Getty Images))

NATO planes flew over Misrata on Wednesday but did not carry out airstrikes, The Associated Press reported. 

Rebels control Misrata's port area, while Gadhafi's forces are deployed along Tripoli Street, a downtown thoroughfare. That thoroughfare was the site of the mortar attack that struck the journalists.

Misrata has been under siege for nearly two months, but Gadhafi's forces have intensified their assault on the city in the last few days. Casualties among civilians are reported to be "substantial," according to the UN human rights commissioner.

U.S. to send $25M in aid

The Obama administration announced plans Wednesday to give the Libyan opposition $25 million in aid. It is the first direct U.S. aid to the rebels.

The assistance will be non-lethal, meaning no weapons or ammunition will be involved.

The White House has told Congress the rebel opposition, led by the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, will be offered up to $25 million in surplus American goods to help protect civilians in rebel-held areas threatened by Gadhafi forces.

The list of goods includes such items as medical supplies, uniforms, boots, tents, personal protective gear, radios and meals.

Earlier Wednesday, Italy and France announced they would join Britain in sending military advisers to help organize the poorly trained opposition forces. France also promised to step up airstrikes on Gadhafi's forces.

With files from The Associated Press