A rebel fighter trains an anti-aircraft machine gun in Aleppo. (Reuters/Zain Karam)

Japanese reporter killed, two missing in Syria

August 20, 2012 9:06 PM ET

New York, August 20, 2012--A Japanese reporter was killed amid heavy fighting in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo today, while two other journalists were reported missing in the city, news reports said.

Mika Yamamoto, a video and photo journalist for the news agency Japan Press who was covering clashes in Aleppo, died from injuries sustained in the city's Suleiman al-Halabi district, according to news reports citing the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Japanese Embassy confirmed her death and identity, according to Agence-France Presse, the Associated Press, and the Japanese agency Kyodo News.

Yamamoto died in a nearby hospital, the Syrian Observatory told AFP. In a video posted on YouTube that purported to show the victim, a rebel fighter who identified himself as Ahmad al-Ghazzali said Yamamoto was killed in Syrian government shelling. The origin of the video was unclear, and the source of fire could not be independently corroborated. Government forces waged a heavy bombardment of Aleppo today, as about 100 deaths were reported across Syria, according to news reports.

"We mourn the loss of our colleague Mika Yamamoto and send our deepest condolences to her family and friends," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "Syria has become the most dangerous place in the world for both local and international journalists."

Bashar Fahmi, a reporter for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Al-Hurra, and Cüneyt Ünal, a Turkish cameraman for the station, were unaccounted for late Monday, according to a spokeswoman for the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, the station's parent company. Fahmi is a Jordanian national of Palestinian origin. The spokeswoman said the two journalists failed to check in with their editors as scheduled earlier in the day.

In the video that purported to show the deceased Japanese reporter, the rebel fighter said the two Al-Hurra journalists had been seized by Syrian forces. That claim could not be independently corroborated.

Last week, CPJ documented the killings of three local journalists and the kidnapping of several others. CPJ research shows that at least 16 other journalists have been killed since November while covering Syria, making it the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This alert has been modified to include that Bashar Fahmi is a Jordanian national of Palestinian origin. 

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