SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- American news photographer John Hoagland was killed Friday in crossfire between leftist guerrillas and government forces, becoming the 10th foreign journalist to die in El Salvador's 4-year civil war.
Hoagland, 36, of San Diego, Calif., died when he was hit in the spine by a bullet from an M-60 machine gun or G-3 rifle near Suchitoto, a city 20 miles northeast of San Salvador, hospital authorities said.
Salvadoran rebels launched the attack on Suchitoto just after midnight and the combat was still going on by late afternoon, said residents interviewed by telephone.
A civil defense official called the fighting 'so intense that the security forces could not go outside.'
Lt. Col. Ricardo Cienfuegos, chief army spokesman, said 14 government soldiers also died Friday in the combat zone where Hoagland was killed.
Hoagland, a veteran journalist, covered the revolution in Nicaragua in 1979. He had just returned to El Salvador for the coming elections after covering the U.S. Marine withdrawal from Beirut.
A photographer for the Gamma-Liason agency, he began covering the Salvadoran civil war for United Press International in 1980 but later worked exclusively for Newsweek magazine.
Time magazine photographer Bob Nickelsberg, who was with Hoagland at the time of the shooting, said they were walking with some soldiers on the road between Suchitoto and San Salvador when they came under attack by guerrillas.
The two men were dashing to a tree for cover to escape a hail of mortar fire when Hoagland was hit, Nickelsberg said.
'John was on one knee, just ready to go down, when he yelled 'Ouch, I'm hit',' Nickelsberg said.
Hoagland then collapsed with a large hole in his back and died, Nickelsberg said.
Nickelsberg said he yelled to a medic about 50 yards away for help but the medic answered that he was too busy with a wounded soldier. Nickelsberg said a CBS News team assisted in transporting Hoagland's body to the capital.
'After the fighting died down, we took turns carrying John's body and just got out of there,' said Richard Wagner, a CBS News correspondent.
Doctors conducting an autopsy said Hoagland was killed by a standard 7.62 round fired from an M-60 machine gun or a G-3 rifle. They said the bullet broke Hoagland's spine.
Nickelsberg said he did not know where the shots came from, although both government troops and guerrillas use M-60 machine guns.
Hoagland was the 10th foreign journalist to be killed in the Salvadoran conflict since August 1980.
He was slightly wounded on Jan 12, 1981, when a rebel-planted land mine wrecked the car he was traveling in about 10 miles east of Suchitoto.
Other journalists killed during the 4-year-old civil war included: Mexican freelance journalist Ignacio Rodriguez Terraza; Ian Mates, a South African cameraman working for UPITN; Olivier Rebbot, a French photographer on assignment for Newsweek and John Sullivan, reporter for Hustler Magazine.
Four Dutch journalists working for Radio-Television News of Holland and a Chilean television reporter were also killed in the region.
In New York, Newsweek editor-in-chief Rick Smith called Hoagland an 'exceptional human being.'
'In the past six months, John worked primarily for our magazine and in that period, four of his photos became Newsweek covers. That record attests to his excellence but those of us who knew John will remember him as a gentle, fun-loving man who always gave his very best to his profession.'