French journalist killed during Russian bombardment in Ukraine

Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, killed during Russian bombardment that a hit vehicle evacuating civilians, officials say.

A man walks past a residential building damaged during a shelling in Severodonetsk
A man walks past a residential building damaged during a shelling in Severodonetsk, Luhansk on April 16 [EPA-EFE]

A French journalist has been killed during a Russian bombardment that struck a vehicle evacuating civilians from eastern Ukraine, French and Ukrainian officials said.

“Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was in Ukraine to show the reality of war,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“Onboard a humanitarian bus with civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombings, he was mortally wounded.”

Leclerc-Imhoff was working for the BFM television news channel, which said he was 32 years old and on his second Ukraine reporting trip since the war began on February 24.

He was near Severodonetsk, a city in Ukraine’s east that has been pounded by advancing Russian troops in recent weeks, the French and Ukrainian foreign ministries said in separate statements.

Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who visited Kyiv on Monday, wrote on Twitter that Leclerc-Imhoff had been killed “by a Russian bombardment of a humanitarian mission while he was carrying out his duty to inform.

“I have spoken with the government of Luhansk and asked President [Volodymyr] Zelensky for an inquiry, and they assured me of their help and support,” she wrote.

BFM said its journalist had been hit by shrapnel from the bombing, and his colleague Maxime Brandstaetter was wounded. Their local fixer Oksana Leuta was not hurt.

“This tragic event reminds us of the dangers faced by all journalists who have been risking their lives to describe this conflict for more than three months now,” BFM said in a statement.

A Donetsk People's Republic militia's multiple rocket launcher fires from its position
Pro-Russian forces fire a rocket launcher near Panteleimonivka in eastern Ukraine [Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]

Macron wrote, “I share the grief of his family, relatives and colleagues,” adding that “to those who ensure the difficult mission of reporting in combat zones, I want to reiterate France’s unconditional support.”

Reporters Without Borders, an international media advocacy group, said at least eight journalists have been killed while reporting on the Ukraine conflict.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram that “our armoured evacuation vehicle was going to pick ten people up from the area and came under enemy fire.”

Source: AFP