French journalist killed reporting on a humanitarian convoy in Ukraine

The cameraman was hit by in the neck by shrapnel during a civilian evacuation effort

French reporter Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was killed while travelling in a humanitarian convoy in eastern Ukraine. BFM TV via AP
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A French cameraman has been killed in Ukraine after a humanitarian bus carrying civilians came under fire, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, was reported by officials to have died in a lorry marked “humanitarian aid”. The cameraman, who worked for BFMTV, was killed near the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna was in Kyiv for a meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on Monday.

She called for an investigation to determine how Mr Leclerc-Imhoff died.

“France demands the opening of a transparent inquiry as soon as possible to shed all the light on the circumstances of this tragedy,” she said.

“France demands that a probe is carried out as soon as possible and in transparency on the circumstances.”

Mr Macron confirmed the fatality on Twitter and send his condolences to Mr Leclerc-Imhoff's loved ones.

“Journalist, Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was in Ukraine to show the reality of the war,” Mr Macron tweeted. “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 Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, to whom I send my condolences.

“To those who carry out the difficult mission of informing in theatres of operations, I would like to reiterate France's unconditional support.”

In a series of tweets, Ms Colonna said she was “deeply saddened and shocked by the death of our compatriot Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff” whom she was “killed by a Russian bombardment on a humanitarian operation while exercising his duty to inform.”

She said Mr Zelenskyy's administration had “assured me of their help and support” in a probe.

“It is a double crime which targets a humanitarian convoy and a journalist,” Ms Colonna added.

Mr Leclerc-Imhoff had been reporting on the evacuation of civilians from areas in Luhansk, the region’s governor Serhiy Haidai said.

In a message posted on Telegram, Mr Haidai said the cameraman had been shot in the neck and the evacuation effort had to be suspended due to the attack.

“Today our armoured evacuation vehicle was going to pick up 10 people from the area and came under enemy fire,” the mayor said.

“Shrapnel from shells pierced the armour of the car. A fatal wound to the neck was received by an accredited French journalist who was making material about the evacuation.”

BFMTV said the cameraman had been travelling with colleague Maxime Brandstaetter, who was injured in the attack, and Ukrainian fixer Oksana Leuta, who escaped unscathed.

Mr Leclerc-Imhoff had worked for the network for six years and was on his second trip to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February.

“This tragic event 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,” BFMTV added.

Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, said Mr Leclerc-Imhoff “was killed on the road between Lysychansk and Bakhmut”.

“The Russian Army allegedly fired on the evacuation vehicle where the journalist was and the shot pierced the armour,” he said.

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

Updated: May 31, 2022, 3:36 PM
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