Wounded journalists 'smuggled out' of Syria

Reports say UK photographer and, possibly, a French reporter have reached Lebanon after being trapped in embattled Homs.

    Conroy, left, and Bouvier, right, were trapped in Homs after being wounded during bombardment of the city [Reuters]

    At least one Western journalist seriously wounded in the Syrian government's bombardment of an opposition enclave, has been smuggled with the help of activists into neighbouring Lebanon.

    News of the escape of Paul Conroy, a British photographer, and unconfirmed reports of French reporter Edith Bouvier's arrival in Lebanon on Tuesday came as the UN Human Rights Council discussed a resolution in Geneva, Switzerland, seeking to halt the violence in Syria to allow in vital humanitarian aid.

    A Lebanese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Paul made it to the UK embassy while Bouvier's location in the country was unknown.

    Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, disclosed that Bouvier successfully crossed the border into Lebanon, only to retract his statement shortly afterwards, saying that it was "not confirmed that she was safe in Lebanon".

    Paul and Bouvier were seriously injured in a rocket attack by security forces last week on a makeshift media centre while covering the uprising in Bab Amr, an opposition stronghold in the heavily bombarded city of Homs.

    Two other prominent Western journalists were killed in the attack.

    Rima Fleihan, a spokeswoman for the Local Co-ordination Committees, an umbrella Syrian opposition group, said that Paul, a photographer for the Sunday Times, the UK newspaper, was smuggled out by army defectors.

    Avaaz, the global activist group, which said it organised his evacuation, disclosed that 13 of the 35 Syrian activists who volunteered to help get Paul out of the country were killed by security forces.

    The developments came as Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued fresh calls on Tuesday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

    She recommended action to prevent Syrian government forces from continuing their nationwide bombardments and other attacks against civilians, which she said had resulted in "countless atrocities".

    Separately, B Lynn Pascoe, the UN political chief, said the death toll of the Syrian government's crackdown on dissent was "well over" 7,500 people.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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