Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has beaten some tough competition to land one of his most challenging roles to date.

The 18-year-old actor is to star as Dan Eldon, a young photographer who was stoned to death by a mob in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993.

The Journey is the Destination, a compilation of Eldon's journals, has sold nearly 200,000 copies since its publication ten years ago and a string of Hollywood's leading men were eager to play the role of the 22-year-old.

But after meeting with the likes of Orlando Bloom, Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix, Eldon's family opted for Radcliffe, further endorsing the Potter star's burgeoning reputation as a serious actor.

Eldon's mother Kathy told the Guardian: "We resisted a lot of older actors because Dan was a boy emerging into manhood."

His photographs of civil war atrocities in Somalia helped draw international attention to the region and the international community's effort to dismantle the regime of warlord General Farah Aideed.

But after a US-led bombing mistakenly killed 74 innocent men, women and children, Eldon and four colleagues - Hansi Krauss, Anthony Macharia of Reuters and Hos Maina of the Associated Press - were asked by survivors to take pictures of the bombed compound.

The four men were then surrounded, stoned and beaten to death by a hostile mob.

The young photographer's work has received huge celebrity backing from the likes of Madonna, Peter Gabriel and Baz Luhrmann and is now housed permanently in a New York gallery.

"The timing is right and the person is right and I couldn't ask for more," Ms Eldon added of Radcliffe's casting.

"He has portrayed a magician for years and my Dan was a different kind of magician.

"There are parallels in the two Dans' lives. Daniel Radcliffe is a poet, he keeps journals and he's half Jewish. He has a puckishness, sense of humour and energy inside him which remind me of Dan."

02/01/2008 14:50:00