New York, January 11, 2012–French TV journalist Gilles Jacquier was killed on Wednesday in the Syrian city of Homs, according to news reports. Jacquier is the first foreign journalist killed in Syria since the 10-month uprising began.
“We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Gilles Jacquier,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Jacquier’s death marks the third work-related journalist fatality in Homs province since November. We call on the Syrian government to explain the circumstances of this tragedy.”
Jacquier, a reporter for the French public broadcaster France2, was killed along with seven other people while he was covering a pro-regime rally in Homs with a group of journalists, news reports said. The exact circumstances of the attack that left the journalist dead were unclear. An Agence France-Presse photographer who witnessed the attack told AFP that a mortar shell fell on the group, but other news accounts reported that the deaths and injuries were the result of rocket-propelled grenades.
Jacquier’s employer confirmed his death with a statement on its website. France2 said that Jacquier was with a cameraman, Christophe Kenck, who was slightly wounded in the attack.
Dutch journalist Steven Wassenaar was also injured in the attack, according to news reports.
Foreign journalists have largely been banned from Syria since March, with only a few journalists given permission to enter the country. Jacquier was visiting Syria as part of a group of 12 journalists on a government-authorized trip to Homs, according to the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
No group has taken responsibility for the attack. SANA said in a statement on its website that an official at the Ministry of Information said the attack was carried out by an armed terrorist group. The government has routinely blamed killings and unrest on armed terrorist groups but has consistently failed to provide evidence to support the claims.
CPJ has documented the deaths of two Syrian journalists killed in relation to their work in Syria over the past three months. In November, cameraman Ferzat Jerban was found in Homs with his eyes gouged out. Basil al-Sayed, a videographer, was shot in the head at a Homs checkpoint in late December.