AP PHOTOS: Slain journalist captured Libya’s turmoil

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CAIRO (AP) — Mohamed Ben Khalifa’s work as a photographer and video journalist captured the tragedy of refugee corpses washing ashore on Libya’s coastline. In urban centers, he documented ferocious militia warfare.

In one photo, a wave rolls gently over the arm of a dead refugee. In another, a love letter written on pink paper is seen next to the body of a Syrian refugee found on the beach of Ben Khalifa’s hometown of Zuwara, west of the Libyan capital. In others, gunfire rages, lighting up the night sky.

The work of Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

FILE – In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 file photo, the body of a drowned migrant is lies on a dock in Zuwara, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 photo, a Libyan soldier wakes his comrade in Al Ajaylat, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, file, photo, Red Crescent workers carry the lifeless body of a migrant, in the port city of Khoms, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 file photo, Libyan soldiers try to fix a weapon that jammed during clashes with militants on the frontline in Al Ajaylat, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Feb. 20, 2015, file photo, an African Christian mother and her child attend mass at Anglican church in Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Feb. 20, 2016, file photo, a member of the Libyan security forces displays part of a document in Arabic describing weaponry, that was found at the site of U.S. airstrikes on an Islamic State camp that killed dozens, near the western city of Sabratha, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this March 2, 2014 file photo, protesters stand atop a vehicle as others burn in front of the National Conference Hall, in Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this April 11, 2016, file photo, African migrants wait to receive medical assistance after being rescued by coastal guards on a port in Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 3, 2015, file photo, members of the Libyan Red Crescent wash their hands at the shore after they placed bodies of migrants found on the eastern shore of Tripoli, Libya into bags. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 file photo, a Libyan military soldier stands guard at the entrance of a town, 110 kilometers (68 miles) from Sirte, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 file photo, Libyan soldiers aim their weapons during clashes with militants on the frontline in Al Ajaylat, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 file photo, a Libyan Red Crescent worker holds a picture that was found in a bag of belongings that washed up on a beach near the Tunisian Libyan border, not far from Zuwarah, 102 km (63 mi) west of Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 file photo, members of the Libyan Red Crescent carry a body bag as they retrieve bodies found washed up in the eastern shore of Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, file photo, the arm of a dead migrant is seen at the waterfront of Zuwara, about 105 kilometers (65 miles) west of Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 file photo, models walk on the stage during a fashion show featuring traditional designs as part of the Culture and Arts Festival at the site of the former royal palace, also known as “People’s Palace,” in Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.(AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 25, 2018, file, photo, smoke rises shortly after an attack on the foreign ministry building, in Tripoli, Libya. The work of photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was killed in Libya on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

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He was killed on Saturday while accompanying a militia on patrol in southern Tripoli. The group came under fire and attack by a missile, according to a fellow freelance journalist. Ben Khalifa was killed by shrapnel.

His body of work since 2014 for the AP included more than 260 photos and scores of videos. A freelancer, he also contributed to other news organizations.

“The Associated Press is distraught by the death of freelance photographer Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who had contributed important, impactful photos from Libya to AP since 2014. Our thoughts are with his family, especially his wife and young daughter, and we offer our deepest condolences,” said AP’s Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Sally Buzbee and Ian Phillips, the news agency’s vice president for international news.

“It is heartbreaking any time a journalist is killed on the job. AP works closely with its freelance and staff journalists to try to ensure their safety. The safety of journalists everywhere is paramount, especially those who are working in the most dangerous of places,” they said in a statement.

Ben Khalifa, 35, also covered routine stories, such as visits by diplomats trying to negotiate a peace deal for Libya. The country splintered in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising and civil war that led to the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

With his sharp eye for detail, Ben Khalifa captured the attempts by ordinary Libyans to carve out normal lives amid the turmoil of the past decade. In one photo, a little boy in a traditional embroidered jacket looks at Ben Khalifa’s camera, facing away from rows of male worshippers sitting in Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square for Muslim holiday prayers. Another shows a wedding ceremony.

But violence was a constant theme in Ben Khalifa’s work, A 2018 photo showed the damage caused by a suicide bombing at Libya’s election commission. A photo taken in late December showed the aftermath of a suicide attack on Libya’s Foreign Ministry.

Ben Khalifa is survived by his wife, Lamya, and their 7-month-old daughter, Rayan.

Here is a selection of some of his best work for the AP since 2014.

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