Two Western journalists killed in Homs

Two Western journalists killed in Homs

Two Western journalists killed in Homs

Photographer Ochlik who also covered protests in Cairo is killed in Syria. AP photo

Two Western journalists were among more than a dozen people killed yesterday as Syrian forces pounded the rebel city of Homs, activists said, after which France summoned Syria’s envoy to Paris.

The latest barrage came a day after security forces killed at least 68 people across Syria, adding to an overall death toll of 7,636 since March 2011 when anti-regime protests broke out, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The toll included 5,542 civilians, the head of the Britain-based rights monitoring group, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

At least 17 more civilians were killed in shelling of the Baba Amr district of Homs yesterday, the 19th straight day the city in central Syria was being pounded, the group said.

American journalist Marie Colvin and French freelance photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in the bombing of Baba Amr, French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said. Activist Omar Shaker said from inside Baba Amr three others were also wounded as a shell crashed into a makeshift media center set up by anti-regime militants. The area remained the target of random shelling, blocking attempts to remove the bodies, Shaker said. The French newspaper Le Figaro said one of its reporters, Edith Bouvier, was wounded in the legs. France demanded access to the victims of the attack and summoned Syria’s envoy to Paris.

“I am asking the Syrian government to immediately stop attacks and respect its humanitarian obligations,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement. “I have asked our embassy in Damascus to require the Syrian authorities provide secure medical access to assist the victims with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch meanwhile hailed Colvin, who worked for his newspaper the Sunday Times, as one of the best foreign correspondents of her generation. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the deaths of the journalists showed “this regime must go.”

A life devoted to war journalism

Colvin, in her 50s, had covered conflicts from Sri Lanka to Syria and stood up for the importance of independent journalism.

She lost the sight in one eye during an ambush in Sri Lanka in 2001 but promised not to “hang up my flak jacket” and kept reporting on the world’s most troubled places. Colvin also worked in the Balkans, where she went on patrol with the Kosovo Liberation Army as it engaged Serb military forces. She worked in Chechnya, where she was repeatedly attacked by Russian jets while reporting on Chechen rebels. She also covered the conflict in East Timor after its people voted for independence.
She was outspoken in her defense of independent journalism and a fervent advocate for the cause of war reporting.

French television reporter Gilles Jacquier was killed in Homs last month as a shell exploded amid a group of journalists covering protests in the city on a visit organized by the Syrian authorities. A Syrian citizen journalist, Rami al-Sayyed, who provided live footage on the Internet from Baba Amr, was killed late Feb. 21 when a rocket hit a car in which he was traveling, activist Hadi Abdullah said.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.