How Two Photojournalists Ended a Firefight During the Liberian Civil War

Dispatches from the front.
Aug. 18 2014 12:20 PM

How Curiosity and a Camera Can End a Firefight

It helps when no one knows why they're fighting.

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Government militia soldiers fire at enemy rebel soldiers July 25, 2003 at a key bridge in Monrovia, Liberia.

Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Slate has partnered with Brooklyn Brewery and RISC to bring its hit war correspondent interview series to our readers. In this third installment, Steve Hindy, founder of Brooklyn Brewery and a former Associated Press foreign correspondent, sits down with three of the people closest to Chris Hondros, the award-winning photojournalist who was killed in Misurata, Libya in 2011. Testament, a collection of Hondros’ photography and writing, was released posthumously this year.

In 2003, Hondros was in Liberia, covering the tail end of the second Liberian civil war, a bloody conflict that pitted Charles Taylors government forces against two different rebel groups. On one particular day of the brutal war, he and fellow photojournalist Michael Kamber were embedded with a group of LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) fighters when a firefight broke out with government troops. Pinned on one side of a bridge in the midst of the shootout, bullets ricocheting everywhere, Hondros questioned why the two groups were even fighting in the first place. In the clip above, Todd Heisler (staff photographer for the New York Times) and Sandy Ciric (director of photography at Getty Images) discuss how Hondros realized the LURD fighters were clueless about the cause of the fight—and ultimately risked his life to negotiate a truce.​​

Chris Wade is a producer for Slate Video and occasional contributor to Brow Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

A.J. McCarthy is a Slate Video blogger.