Killed war zone journalist's colleagues mourn his passing

Jeroen Oerlemans on Anderson Cooper 360
Jeroen Oerlemans (r) discusses being shot and kidnapped by ISIS fighters with CNN's Anderson Cooper in 2012. image: CNN

Friends and colleagues are shocked and devastated by the death of Jeroen Oerlemans. The Dutch photo journalist was shot and killed by an ISIS sniper in Libya on Sunday. They describe him as sensible and careful, making his death that more shocking.

"He was a very sensible guy", friend and colleague Peter ter Velde said to broadcaster NOS. "That makes this extra bitter." Ter Velde and Oerlemans often traveled together to photograph war zones. "He was a journalist who very deliberately considered and assessed the risks. Someone who constantly asked himself: Am I going to far or not?"

Oerlemans was working in Libya with Joanie de Rijke on a report for Belgian weekly Knack. Joanie was with him when he was shot by a sniper while crossing between two buildings. "The only consolation is that he died instantly", De Rijke said to Nieuwsuur on Sunday. "At least he did not suffer." On Twitter she wrote: "Tears and despair. We lost Jeroen Oerlemans yesterday by sniper fire while I was working with him. My heart is with his family"

"Utterly awful", NOS correspondent Joeri Boom said to the broadcaster. "Jeroen was m buddy in times of war and peace. He was my friend, witness at my wedding. He was the godfather of my eldest daughter and I godfather of his son." According to him, Oerlemans was in Sirte to show what the forgotten war looks like - showing exactly how Oerlemans worked. "He felt these stories had to be told." he said. "And now we lost him. One of the best war photographers in the Netherlands. And I lost my friend. One who offered me safety in war time and peace time."

Friends also turned to social media to express their shock and grief. On Twitter he is described as "a photographer with  heart", "a super nice guy", "talented" and "courageous", the Volkskrant reports. NOS reporter Lex Runderkamp describe him as "a photographer with integrity, who with his work really wanted to show what happens to people". According to him, Oerlemans was a quiet, unassuming man who prepared his travels well in order to identify risks in advance.

"Thanks to journalists like Jeroen Oerlemans, we know what happens in the worst troubled spots in the world", European Commissioner Frans Timmermans wrote on Facebook. "Thanks to people with his courage we the get independent and objective information that every free society needs. This enables society to form an opinion and politicians to make better decisions. But the risk faced by by journalists in carrying out their noble task is very big in this dangerous world. Jeroen Oerlemans was shot and killed by an ISIS sniper in Libya. We express gratitude for what he has done for society and deep condolences to the loved ones he leaves behind."

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