French photographer killed in Syria shelling

By CPJ | New York

Olivier Voisin
An undated photo of Olivier Voisin. (AFP)

A French freelance photographer died in a Turkish hospital on Sunday from shrapnel wounds he received while covering the unrest in Syria’s Idlib province three days earlier, according to news reports.

Olivier Voisin, 38, had contributed work to several local and international publications, including Le Monde, The Guardian, and Agence France-Presse. His website chronicles his work from some of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, including Libya, Haiti, Somalia, Brazil, and Kenya.

Voisin had recently crossed into Idlib province and embedded with an armed opposition group. He was reporting on the operations of the opposition group on Thursday when he was hit by shrapnel and wounded in the head and arm, news reports said. He was escorted over the border to a Turkish hospital in the city of Antakya, where he died on Sunday, news reports said.

News accounts did not immediately report whether the shrapnel originated from government or rebel fire, or if Voisin was targeted. Government forces frequently shell rebel-held areas with indiscriminate fire, putting combatant, journalist, and resident alike in danger.

“One year ago, we mourned the killing of international journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, and now we mourn again for Olivier Voisin,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator. “Like all journalists covering the Syrian conflict, they faced risks from all sides, including targeted killings and the deadly crossfire of combat.”

By controlling local news reports and expelling or denying entry to foreign journalists, the Syrian government has sought to impose a blackout on independent news coverage since the country’s uprising began in early 2011, CPJ research shows. Despite extremely high risk, international journalists have continued to smuggle themselves into Syria to cover the conflict.

Journalists working in Syria face dangers on all sides, with freelance journalists confronted with even greater risks. At least 32 journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the revolution in 2011, making Syria the most dangerous place in the world for journalists in 2012, according to CPJ research.

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