BIERUT – A French photojournalist and an American war correspondent were reported killed in a mortar attack in Homs, Syria Wednesday morning. The city was besieged by Syrian troops on February 4th and has been the opposition stronghold against President Bashar al-Assad despite non-stop violence and bombarding. The journalists, identified as Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin, along with seven to nine activists were killed when Syrian troops launched rockets that hit a house used as a media center.
At least 13 people were killed in Wednesday’s shelling, including the journalists, activists said. [A Homs-based activist, Omar Shaker] said intense Syrian troops shelling with tanks and artilleries began at 6:30 a.m. and was continuing hours later. He said the apartment used by journalists was hit around 10 a.m. An amateur video posted online by activist showed what they claimed were bodies of two people in the middle of a heavily damaged house. It said they were of the journalists. One of the dead was wearing what appeared to be a flak jacket.
Opposition activists said Colvin and Ochlik entered Homs without permission from Syrian authorities and were in a house in the Baba Amr neighborhood with other foreign journalists when the building was hit. At least two other journalists, freelance photographer Paul Conroy and French journalist Edith Bouvery, were injured in the attack, activists said.
British foreign minister William Hague condemned President Bashar al-Assad’s “despicable campaign of terror in Syria” and said the international community has a responsibility to end it.
Remi Olchik was only 28 years old.
Marie Colvin was in her fifties. She was instantly recognizable by an eye-patch she wore after losing her eye while reporting in Sri Lanka. BBC’s Lyse Doucet called Colvin “brave and beautiful,” a journalist whose signature was “not just to go to a story, but to stay for as long as she could, regardless of the danger or discomfort.”
In a phone interview with BBC the day before she died, Colvin described the situation in Syria as “absolutely sickening.” “No one here can understand how the international community can let this happen,” she said. In 2010, Colvin talked about the dangers about reporting on wars. “It’s really never been more dangerous to be a war correspondent,” she said. “Because journalists in the combat zone, now we’re not just facing rockets and bullets, but we’ve also become targets.”