12 Jan 2012

French journalist killed in Syria

7:37 pm on 12 January 2012

A French television correspondent has become the first Western journalist to be killed in Syria since an uprising began against President Bassar al-Assad.

Gilles Jacquier was killed in the central city of Homs while on a trip sanctioned by the Syrian government. He was among eight killed when the area he was in came under shellfire.

A witness says Mr Jacquier was on the government-escorted trip when his group was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades, the BBC reports.

At least one other European journalist was wounded, according to reports. Dutch officials and media said a Dutch journalist was hurt.

Gilles Jacquier is described as a veteran award-winning journalist who covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, and between Israel and the Palestinians.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has demanded a full investigation.

More than 5000 people have been killed since the unrest began in March last year, according to the United Nations.

The government says 2000 security personnel have died combating "armed gangs and terrorists".

It is impossible to verify the claims, as access for foreign journalists has been severely restricted.