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French Journalist Killed By Russian Shell In Ukraine

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A French journalist has been killed after an armoured evacuation vehicle in which he was travelling was hit by shrapnel from a Russian shell in the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian and French authorities have said.

News channel BFMTV said in a statement it was “immensely saddened” to announce the death of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, who had worked for it for six years and was on his second tour of the conflict, adding that the journalist and cameraman was killed on the road to Lysychansk.

“Our reporter was covering the ongoing war. He was the victim of shrapnel while following a humanitarian operation in an armoured vehicle on Monday,” the 24-hour news station said.

“He was accompanied by his colleague, Maxime Brandstaetter, who was slightly injured during this strike, and their fixer, Oksana Leuta, who was unharmed.” Leclerc-Imhoff had been reporting from the easternmost Ukrainian-held city, which has come under intense attack from Russia.

French journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff has been killed in Ukraine. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said the reporter “was in Ukraine to show the reality of the war. On board a humanitarian bus, alongside civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombs, he was fatally shot. I share the pain of the family, relatives and colleagues of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, to whom I send my condolences.”

BFMTV said the tragedy “reminds us of the dangers faced by all journalists who have been reporting this conflict at the risk of their lives for more than three months now”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international media advocacy group, said over a dozen journalists had been killed while reporting on the Ukraine conflict.

France’s new foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, has called for an investigation into Leclerc-Imhoff’s death. “France demands that a probe is carried out as soon as possible and in transparency on the circumstances of this drama,” she said in a statement.

Luhansk’s regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, said on Telegram that the armoured evacuation vehicle came “under enemy fire” as it went to collect 10 people from the area. There was no immediate comment from the Russian authorities, who have repeatedly denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.

“Shrapnel from the grenades pierced the armour of the car … a fatal wound in the neck was received by an accredited French journalist who was making a report on the evacuation. A policeman on patrol was saved by a helmet,” Haidai said.

Efforts to evacuate civilians from the area were suspended after the death, which came as Russian tanks and troops began advancing into Sievierodonetsk – the largest city in the Donbas still held by Ukraine.

Witnesses said Russian tanks were advancing towards the centre of the city one blast at a time, razing everything in their path that remained after intense shelling that Ukrainian authorities have said has led to conditions on the ground reminiscent of Mariupol.

“They [the Russian army] use the same tactics over and over again,” Haidai said. “They shell for several hours – for three, four, five hours – in a row and then attack. Those who attack die. Then the shelling and attack follow again, and so on until they break through somewhere.”

Witnesses said the city was being bombed “200 times an hour” as Russian forces tried to cut off reinforcement lines and surround its remaining defenders.

The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Striuk, confirmed in a telephone interview with the Associated Press that Russian troops had “advanced a few blocks towards the city centre”. He said Ukrainian forces were trying to push the Russians out in street fighting and that the 12,000-13,000 civilians left in the city were sheltering from the relentless bombardment in basements and bunkers.

The battle for Sievierodonetsk, which lies on the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets, about 90 miles south of the Russian border, is in the spotlight as Russia grinds out slow but solid gains in the industrial Donbas, which comprises the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Source: The Guardian

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