Veteran AP video, photo-journalist in Congo dies of COVID-19

  • FILE - In this Thursday, June 30, 2005 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo,  a demonstrator leaping over a burning tire in the Victoire neighbourhood of the capital Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Thursday, June 30, 2005 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a demonstrator leaping over a burning tire in the Victoire neighbourhood of the capital Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this July 27, 2006 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, looters hold up a gun that was taken from a nearby Church before it was set on fire by supporters of presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba during a rally in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this July 27, 2006 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, looters hold up a gun that was taken from a nearby Church before it was set on fire by supporters of presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba during a rally in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • This photo taken on Dec 20 2018 shows AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, center, during a press conference in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    This photo taken on Dec 20 2018 shows AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, center, during a press conference in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Oct.22 2006 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, Congolese army soldiers carry guns as they walk down a street in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Oct.22 2006 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, Congolese army soldiers carry guns as they walk down a street in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Oct. 13 2012 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, French President Francois Hollande speaks during the opening session of the Francophonie Summit, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Oct. 13 2012 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, French President Francois Hollande speaks during the opening session of the Francophonie Summit, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, women supporters of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi protest the results of Congo's recent presidential election outside the United States embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, women supporters of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi protest the results of Congo's recent presidential election outside the United States embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 28 2014 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, children stand next to the goods they sell in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this May 28 2014 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, children stand next to the goods they sell in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this  Jan. 20, 2015 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, an anti-government protestor, center, stands in front a burning car as he and others block roads and burn tires, during a protest against a new law that could delay election to be held in 2016, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, an anti-government protestor, center, stands in front a burning car as he and others block roads and burn tires, during a protest against a new law that could delay election to be held in 2016, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this  Dec. 30, 2013 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, Congolese soldiers gather around two armed assailants that were shot dead in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this Dec. 30, 2013 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, Congolese soldiers gather around two armed assailants that were shot dead in the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this June 30 2016 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, performers in traditional clothing celebrate the 56th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo's independence from Belgium, in Kindu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this June 30 2016 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, performers in traditional clothing celebrate the 56th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo's independence from Belgium, in Kindu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Oct 4 2007 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a rescue worker points out a charred body lying alongside a piece of a crashed cargo plane, as firefighters hose down the smoking rubble of a building, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Oct 4 2007 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a rescue worker points out a charred body lying alongside a piece of a crashed cargo plane, as firefighters hose down the smoking rubble of a building, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Sept 19, 2016 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a family pass near Congolese riot police during a protest in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Sept 19, 2016 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a family pass near Congolese riot police during a protest in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this Jan 4 2018 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, rescue worker remove bodies of children following floods in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - FILE - In this Jan 4 2018 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, rescue worker remove bodies of children following floods in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 13, 2018 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a health care worker wears protective gear at an Ebola treatment center in Bikoro, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this May 13, 2018 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a health care worker wears protective gear at an Ebola treatment center in Bikoro, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this June 1 2019 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, people gather to watch as the coffin carrying the remains of longtime Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi is carried to Kinshasa's Martyrs Stadium for his funeral ceremony in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this June 1 2019 file photo shot by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, people gather to watch as the coffin carrying the remains of longtime Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi is carried to Kinshasa's Martyrs Stadium for his funeral ceremony in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, June 10, 2020 file photo, the last transmitted by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a statue of King Leopold II riding a horse is seen at the Institute of National Museums of Congo, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital.

    FILE - In this Wednesday, June 10, 2020 file photo, the last transmitted by AP contributing photographer John Bompengo, a statue of King Leopold II riding a horse is seen at the Institute of National Museums of Congo, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Relatives say longtime Associated Press contributor John Bompengo has died of COVID-19 in Congo's capital. Bompengo, who had covered his country's political turmoil over the course of 16 years, died Saturday, June 20, 2020 at a Kinshasa hospital. Associated Press

 
 
Posted6/22/2020 7:00 AM

DAKAR, Senegal -- John Bompengo, who covered Congo's political turmoil as a freelance photographer and video journalist for The Associated Press over the course of 16 years has died, relatives said Sunday. He was 52.

The cause of death was complications due to the coronavirus. Bompengo had been hospitalized for about a week but his condition rapidly deteriorated Friday and he died the following day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Bompengo had contributed to AP since 2004, including coverage of the Ebola outbreak in northern Congo, in 2018. He also worked for the U.N.-backed news service, Radio Okapi.

Andrew Drake, the AP's Africa news director who also served as senior video producer for West Africa from 2011 to 2018, remembered Bompengo as a 'stalwart colleague and an impressive storyteller."

'John could talk his way in and out of places where others couldn't to get striking images,' Drake said. "He had great contacts and friends across the entire country. Whether news was breaking in Kinshasa or across the river in Brazzaville, John was always on top of things, fast to arrive on the scene and with a plan to get the best pictures.

'He was committed to covering the flow of Congo's sometime violent politics, always to be found at the heart of the action on the streets taking photos and video, but soon after he would be back in his suit covering the president.'

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Among his memorable assignments was covering Congo's 2006 election, the country's first multiparty vote in more than 40 years - held nine years after the death of longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

When dangerous clashes broke out after one opposition party decided to boycott, Bompengo went out into the streets to film them even when other journalists stayed back.

'There were angry protesters throwing stones at cars, clashing with police and attacking journalists,' recalled Khaled Kazziha, now AP's senior producer for East Africa. 'That afternoon John arrived with incredible video of the clashes."

'He had an incredible knack at navigating around the often chaotic streets of Kinshasa at the worst of times, and to pacify the most angry crowds, ensuring our safety.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Jerome Delay, AP Chief Africa photographer, said Bompengo was a valued colleague.

"I have known and worked with John for the past 15 years. I have rarely seen such a dedicated field journalist. ... John was a one man band international multi-format news agency - TV, radio, print and photos - he would excel in all fields. We have lost a brother."

Bompengo is survived by his wife and nine children.

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