France identified two Western reporters killed in Syria on Wednesday as veteran American war correspondent Marie Colvin of Britain’s Sunday Times and freelance French photojournalist Remi Ochlik.
Colvin was a renowned reporter who had covered countless conflicts over 30 years and wore a distinctive eye patch after she was wounded in Sri Lanka. She was voted Foreign Correspondent of the Year in the 2010 British Press Awards.
Ochlik was a 28-year-old photographer represented by the IP3 agency, which he co-founded in Paris, who quit his studies aged 20 to report on Haiti and has since covered many of the recent upheavals in the Arab world.
France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said the pair had been fleeing a bombardment in the besieged rebel bastion of Homs when they were killed. “It’s absolutely overwhelming, terrible,” he said.
Separately, the French daily Le Figaro said one of its reporters, Edith Bouvier, had been among three journalists wounded in the same incident.
“I received two calls from Homs this morning to tell me that Edith was wounded in the legs. We’re trying to organise her evacuation,” foreign editor Philippe Gelie told AFP in Paris.
Earlier, a Syrian opposition activist had told AFP two Western journalists were killed and three wounded when forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad’s regime shelled a makeshift media centre in the Baba Amr district of Homs.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the two journalists killed were an American woman and a French man, and the Syrian opposition said the journalists’ deaths were likely the fault of the regime.
“Homs is a very, very dangerous place,” Bassma Kodmani, spokeswoman for the Syrian National Council, the most representative Syrian opposition umbrella group, told reporters in Paris.
“I see no reason why opposition members would shoot at journalists,” she said. “It is, therefore, most probably related to the regime.”
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 during a visit organised by the Syrian authorities.