France 2's Gilles Jacquier dies in explosion

LONDON — French television journalist Gilles Jacquier was killed Wednesday in the city of Homs, Syria. He is the first Western journalist to be killed in the country since protests began 10 months ago.

Jacquier, who worked for channel France 2, was one of a group of 15 journalists speaking to government supporters when they came under attack from rocket grenades.

An unnamed Dutch journalist was injured, and eight Syrian civilians were also killed.

Jacquier was part of a government-authorized trip to the country, France 2 said.

Jacquier was a seasoned foreign correspondent, who had covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Algeria. He won one of France’s top journalism prizes, the Prix Albert Londres, in 2003, and picked up another award, the Jean-Louis Calderon prize, in 2009.

Bertrand Coq, who won the Prix Albert Londres with him, told AFP: “He was an excellent war reporter. He was fearless. He was the kind of person who stuck his neck out, but he never took unnecessary risks.”

Jacquier was “one of the best reporters in France 2; an exceptional man,” Thierry Thuillier, news director at pubcaster France Televisions, which runs France 2, said. “We are all in shock. We are going to miss him a lot.”

The French government called for an investigation into the attack, and said its ambassador would travel to Homs.

“We vigorously condemn this odious act,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement. “It’s up to Syrian authorities to ensure the security of international journalists in their territory, and to protect this fundamental liberty which is the freedom of information.”

Syria is notoriously difficult for Western journalists to access, and those that are allowed in are closely supervised by the regime.

Homs has seen some of the country’s biggest anti-government protests, and the army has clamped down hard on the city, resulting in many civilian deaths.

The U.N. estimates that 5,000 people have been killed in Syria since the protests started.

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