1994 Pulitzer Prize, Spot News Photography, Paul Watson, Toronto Star
In the early 1990s, clan warfare ravages Somalia. Famine spreads. A
United States-led multinational force restores supply lines, but its
presence creates new
tensions. In July 1993, four journalists are beaten to death by an angry mob. Most Western journalists flee. Paul Watson of The Toronto Star stays behind. The press corps is down to just a few journalists, says Watson, when Somali gunmen shoot down an American helicopter in late September. "Witnesses said people dragged part of an American corpse away in a sack to put it on display," says the photographer. "The Pentagon flatly denied that American body parts were being paraded through the streets of Mogadishu."
On Oct. 3, a U.S. Army unit engages in a fierce fight with Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid. In the aftermath, Watson hears that an American serviceman has been captured. Out on the street, he discovers a mob dragging the body of a U.S. soldier. "I approached with a bodyguard on either side. The mob parted long enough for me to shoot about seven frames. My bodyguard forced me back into the car because he had heard threats from the crowd."
Watson’s first photographs show the filthy body of the dead soldier, clad only in underwear, partially exposing his genitalia. "1 jumped out to get just a few frames more. They were all half-body pictures. I didn't want to give any editor an excuse not to use the picture."
Hundreds of newspapers publish the photograph. The public reacts with horror. In March 1994, the United States withdraws entire military force from Somalia.