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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael Kelly, editor-at-large for The Atlantic Monthly and columnist, was killed while on assignment covering the war in Iraq. He is the first American journalist to die in the conflict.
Kelly, also a hard-hitting conservative columnist for The Washington Post and a former editor of The New Republic, died Thursday night while traveling with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division as it moved across Iraq, according to a statement issued by Atlantic Media.
The 46-year-old, who had also covered the first Persian Gulf war, was the first journalist to die among the 600 embedded with the U.S. armed forces. Three foreign journalists have been killed covering the war, two from the United Kingdom and one from Australia.
Neither the Defense Department nor Atlantic Media provided details about Kelly's death. However, The Washington Post, on its Web site, said Kelly was killed in a Humvee accident.
In his final column for The Washington Post published Thursday, Kelly wrote about accompanying an Army task force as it captured a bridge across the Euphrates River.
"On the western side of the bridge, Lt. Col. Ernest "Rock" Marcone, commander of Task Force 3-69, stood in the sand by the side of the road, smoking a cigar and drinking a cup of coffee," Kelly wrote. "Marcone's soldiers say he deeply likes to win, and he seemed quietly happy.... We now hold the critical ground through which the rest of the division can pass and engage and destroy the Republican Guard," Marcone said."
Kelly was fired as editor of The New Republic, a weekly political journal, in 1997 by owner Martin Peretz, a friend and former teacher of then-Vice President Al Gore. Peretz objected to what he felt was the magazine's constant criticism of the Clinton administration, especially in Kelly's regular column.
Kelly became a columnist for the Post and continued to criticize Clinton. Around the same time, he was hired as the editor of National Journal, a weekly magazine that covers the federal government. When the Journal's owner, David Bradley, bought The Atlantic Monthly in 1999, he named Kelly editor of the venerable magazine.
Last September, Kelly stepped down from that post and took the title editor-at-large. He also continued as chief editorial adviser to the Journal.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)