Tributes pour in after photographer Alaoui's death

2016-01-19 22:55
French Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui posing in Marrakesh. (File via AFP)

French Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui posing in Marrakesh. (File via AFP)

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Paris - Tributes poured in on Tuesday following the death of a Franco-Moroccan photographer, the 30th and latest victim of a bloody attack by al-Qaeda gunmen on a top Burkina Faso hotel.

Leila Alaoui, 33, whose pictures featured in the New York Times and Vogue magazine, and whose latest Paris art show wound up at the weekend, died of a heart attack shortly before her evacuation after being shot twice in the leg and thorax.

In France, where she was born, President Francois Hollande paid his respects while parliament observed a minute of silence for those shot Friday by six gunmen who targeted a hotel and cafe popular with foreigners in the heart of Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou.

Alaoui, who lived and worked in Beirut and Marrakesh, was on assignment there for Amnesty International to shoot pictures on women's rights when she and her driver were hit by bullets in the attack claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), as they sat in their car opposite the four-star Splendid Hotel targeted by the gunmen.

"It is with great sadness that Amnesty International has learned of the tragic death of photographer Leila Alaoui and driver Mahamadi Ouedraogo as a result of the Al-Qaeda attack," the rights group said in a statement.

Ouagadougou "was not considered to be a high risk destination and Leila was being supported by colleagues from our national office ... and accompanied by Mahamadi," the rights group said.

A former student of City University in New York, Alaoui's works, combining documentary and aesthetic aspects, had been shown on the global art circuit since 2009, including at Paris' prestigious Arab World Institute and Art Dubai.

Her latest show at Paris' European Photography House featured portraits of Moroccan men and women in traditional clothes, the result of what she said was "a road trip across rural Morocco" using a mobile studio to preserve "a visual archive of Morocco's traditions and aesthetic universe".

Other work centred on migrants and refugees, and in 2013 she organised a photo workshop for young refugees in Rabat with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Writer Tahar Ben Jelloun said on his blog that she was "a passionate artist who knew how to detect reality behind appearances, how to show the splendour of a body behind the veil of prejudice."

Read more on:    aqim  |  burkina faso  |  france  |  media  |  west africa

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