As The Local reported on Sunday, Hansen was struck by two bullets – one hitting his helmet and the other going through his safety vest and hitting his back – while documenting Iraqi and Peshmerga forces' advance on Mosul.
“An amazing guardian angel protected me. The bullet only hit the fleshy parts of my back,” award-winning photographer Hansen told his employer DN after the surgery.
He described how he had been walking in a group of other photographers when there was a sudden burst of gunfire near the village Tez Kharab, some 30 kilometres from Mosul. He took cover behind an embankment after a bullet hit his protective helmet.
“I thought I was safe there, but five minutes later I was hit in the back.” Hansen said he then sent a text message to his colleague in Iraq, Erik Ohlsson, to tell him that he had been shot.
“I then sent an sms to my wife,” he added. “We did the usual risk assessment, but you can never protect yourself against grenades and snipers.”
Hansen was taken by Kurdish Peshmerga forces to a nearby hospital in Erbil, where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet lodged in his back on Sunday. His injuries were not deemed to be serious.
“We're in continuous contact with both Paul and Erik and they are doing well considering the circumstances,” DN's Editor in Chief Peter Wolodarski said.