Injured journalists trapped in Homs plea for rescue

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Injured journalists trapped in Homs plea for rescue

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After the death of the two journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlid, three more Western journalists seem to be trapped in Homs. Since several days the Bab Amro district is the target of heavy artillery fire.

On Friday there were at least five more victims in the area, which is considered to be a hub of the opposition movement. It was also in this area where Colvin and Ochlid, both well-known and highly acclaimed journalists, were killed during heavy shelling on Wednesday.

The news about three more Western journalists being trapped in Bab Amro spread fast on the internet.

In these two videos the French journalist Edith Bouvier (Le Figaro) and the English photographer Paul Conroy called for help and medical assistance. Both would be okay, but Bouvier, who suffers from a broken leg, would need “to be operated as soon as possible”. The third victim is the Paris-based photographer William Daniels. Apparently, the journalists were injured during the same attack that had killed Colvin and Ochlid.

According to video footage both Conroy and Bouvier are currently being taken care of by the Free Syrian Army medical staff. Their medical abilities are, however, restricted. In addition to that, both seem to be sheltered in a relatively insecure environment. In Conroy’s video a person off camera is heard saying that they needed help to be evacuated: ”…he is in a safe place right now but we are not sure…if they can hit us here…so we need your help to evacuate Paul.”
In the meantime, Lebanese intelligence said that the Syrian military had deliberately attacked Bab Amro in order to kill Western journalists.

This accusation is being supported by Jean-Pierre Perrin, a journalist for the Paris-based Liberation newspaper who was with Colvin in Homs last week. Mr Perrin said: “A few days ago we were advised to leave the city urgently and we were told ‘if they [the Syrian army] find you they will kill you’.”

He added that the Syrians were “fully aware” that the press centre was broadcasting direct evidence of crimes against humanity. He said: “The Syrian army issued orders to ‘kill any journalist that set foot on Syrian soil’.”

Both the French President and the British Prime Minister also accused the Syrian government of being responsible for Colvin’s and Ochlid’s deaths.

Nicolas Sarkozy called the attack an “assassination” adding: “Those who carried out the assassination will have to pay for it.” At a news conference in London on Thursday, David Cameron said the Syrian government was guilty of butchery and murder.

Syrian officials rejected the accusations saying that the journalists “infiltrated the country on their own responsibility.”

Meanwhile, the pressure from the international community is rising. On Thursday, investigators from the United Nations accused the Syrian regime of crimes against humanity, indicating President Bashar al-Assad himself should face prosecution. The UN also announced that together with the Arab league it would appoint former secretary-general Kofi Annan as a joint envoy to deal with the crisis.

Some observers say that Homs, under recurrent attack since early February, already reminds them of mass killings such as the 1995 massacre of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war.

Just a few days before being killed, Colvin had written a shocking report on the situation in Homs. The highly experienced journalist, who had been covering wars and conflicts on a worldwide scale since 1985, also described Syria as the “most dangerous conflict she had covered”.