Lepage, 26, a freelance French photojournalist, was killed while embedded with a pro-government Christian militia known as anti-Balaka, according to news reports. Clashes between the anti-Balaka forces and the Seleka forces, a coalition of mostly Muslim rebels, have left the Central African Republic wracked in violence since March 2013, when Seleka forces deposed President Francois Bozize. Thousands of civilians have been killed and many more displaced, according to reports.
Lepage’s body was found by French troops in the western part of the country, according to a statement by French President François Hollande. The French government announced her death on May 13, 2014. In her last tweet on May 6, Lepage said she was traveling with the anti-Balaka fighters to document recent killings in the Bouar region.
Peter Bouckaert, emergency director of Human Rights Watch, told CPJ that he spoke to local anti-Balaka commanders who said she died in an ambush. Bouckaert said he was told five anti-Balaka fighters were also killed in the ambush.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the French national assembly that an investigation to find Lepage’s killers was underway. The United Nations, which runs a peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, condemned the killing.
Lepage’s photos were published in leading publications including Der Spiegel, Libération, Internazionale, the Guardian, Le Monde, The Sunday Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In an October 2013 interview with the photography blog PetaPixel, she expressed her passion for covering forgotten conflicts around the world.