Dubai: XPRESS staff reporter Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz, 26, was shot dead in Cairo on Wednesday morning.
Family members said she was shot at the Rabaa Al Adawiya Square in Cairo where hundreds were killed as troops stormed pro-Mursi protest camps.
Sky News cameraman Mick Deane was also among those killed.
Habiba was not on any official assignment and had gone to her home country on annual leave.
She joined Gulf News as an intern on September 11, 2011 and moved to XPRESS as staff reporter on April 1, 2012 where she covered the police and court beats.
Her younger sister, Arwa Ramadan, who lives in Sharjah, said Habiba was in the mosque at the Square on Wednesday morning.
“My mum spoke to her close to Fajr [early morning prayers], but when she called again at noon, there was no response. She dialled again and somebody picked up and told her Habiba was dead. My dad, who was also in Egypt, confirmed it later.” Habiba’s last post on Facebook read: “Death, here we come. We are not afraid of you, but you of us”.
Gulf News Editor-in-Chief Abdul Hamid Ahmad said: “It’s a sad day for all of us here in the newsroom. Our thoughts and prayers are with Habiba’s family and friends. May Allah give them the strength to bear this tragic loss.”
XPRESS Editor Bobby Naqvi said: “When Habiba went on leave, she was very happy and looking forward to a long vacation. She was the youngest member of our team. XPRESS was her first full-time newspaper job. She handled several tricky assignments and was a keen learner. She will always be missed.” XPRESS deputy editor Mazhar Farooqui said the entire team is in shock. “It’s hard to believe she’s gone. She had a promising career ahead.”
By evening, Habiba’s Facebook page was flooded with tributes from colleagues and friends. Many were yet to come to terms with the tragedy. “I don’t know what to say. I hope you reply and say it’s a lie” said one post. “Tragic beyond words” read another.
A graduate of the American University of Sharjah, Habiba was the eldest of three sisters and a brother. The family was to fly to Egypt on Wednesday night.