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Journalist killed in Syria blast

Sarkozy and Juppé demand answers on why cameraman died after shells fall on news crews under government protection

FRENCH TV journalist Gilles Jacquier has been killed in an explosion in the Syrian city of Homs when shells fell on news crews reporting on protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

He was one of eight people killed in the blast which came during a government-authorised trip to the city for a pro-Assad rally. He is the first western journalist to be killed since the start of the troubles.

France 2 cameraman Jacquier, 43, was a seasoned veteran who had covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Gaza and last year won the Prix Bayeux for war correspondents. In 2009 he won an award from the Scoop festival in Angers for a report on Afghanistan for Envoyé Spécial.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has demanded a full investigation of "this heinous act", saying in a statement: "It's up to the Syrian authorities to ensure international journalists' security in the country - and to protect that fundamental freedom: freedom of information."

President Sarkozy spoke of his "pain" and "emotion" as he called Jacquier a "brave man" who looked to tell the truth of what was happening in war-torn countries. He called on the Syrian to throw "full light" on the attack.

The Arab League has put forward a peace plan for the country which has been torn by anti-Assad protests which have been put down with force.

Photo: Screengrab from France 2 news

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