| ||Afghan photographer honored with agency's first Pulitzer|
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NEW YORK — Agence France-Presse photographer Massoud Hossaini received the Pulitzer prize in New York on Monday for his wrenching shot of the aftermath of a suicide bomb in Kabul.
Hossani, 30, traveled from his native Afghanistan to attend the ceremony at Columbia University for winners of the most prestigious US journalism prize, the first for AFP.
The Pulitzer committee gave 30-year-old Hossaini top honors in the breaking news photography category for what they described as a "heartbreaking image of a girl crying in fear after a suicide bomber's attack" in Kabul in December.
"I am happy I could be a voice for the ones who died," said Hossaini after receiving the prize, adding that win was "an encouragement for Afghan media, and for journalists of the region."
"It will help all journalists to work seriously. It is great to see that the reality we show, not the western journalists, was recognized by a big western organization like the Pulitzer prize," he said. "Now they cannot say the western world doesn't recognize us."
Hossaini's picture of an Afghan girl standing among a pile of dead bodies captured the devastation in the immediate aftermath of the attack on a Shiite shrine, and was published in newspapers and on websites around the world.
Hossaini -- who joined AFP in 2007 -- was just meters (yards) away when the bomb went off on December 6, 2011, killing at least 70 people.
After the announcement last month, the photographer said his famous image brought back painful memories he wanted to avoid.
"I don't look at it any more because my heart beats faster and it brings back the emotions of that day," he said in April after learning of his win.
"I know that whoever sees this photo will think about the photographer but I hope they don't forget the pain Afghanistan's people have in their life."
Hossaini has already picked up first prize in the spot news section of the Pictures of the Year International competition and second prize in the spot news category of the World Press Photo awards.
The girl at the center of Hossaini's photo, 11-year-old Tarana Akbari, also known as the "Girl in the green dress," told AFP in an interview last month that her picture featured on newspaper front pages around the world meant little to her.
When she first saw the image, she said she wondered: "How come I am alive. I can see all the dead bodies around me but only I survived."
Out of 17 women and children from her extended family who went to the shrine that day to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashura, seven died.
She still has scars on her legs and arms, and walks with a limp. She no longer attends school because her legs hurt, she said, adding: "I hope I can get well soon and go back to school."