Two Western journalists — one French and one American — have reportedly been killed by military shelling in the besieged Syria city of Homs. Anti-government activists say that a house being used by both protesters and media was hit by a rocket, killing the two reporters along with several others. Like almost everything coming out of Syria, the report has not been independently confirmed, due to the difficulty of movement and restrictions on outside media entering the country. Two other journalists are believed to have been wounded in the attack.
Reuters is now reporting that the two individuals killed are Marie Colvin, an American working for Britain's Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik. You can see some of Ochilik's photographs taken while covering Arab Spring protests across the region at his website. Colvin, a veteran war zone reporter who covered conflicts from Bosnia to Southeast Asia, was known partly for a distinctive eyepatch that she wore since 2001, after losing her left eye to shrapnel while on assignment in Sri Lanka. In phone interviews given just yesterday, Colvin described seeing a young child die after his house was bombed and called the situation in Homs, "absolutely sickening.”
Of course, they were not the only people to die in Syria this week. Some activists have put the number of killed on Tuesday at more than 100 nationwide, with 40 dying in Homs alone. There are also growing concerns that if the bullet and rocket shells don't kill the city's residents, then hunger and disease will. Humanitarian groups says that crisis is growing as many neighborhoods in Homs have been cut off from water and electricity, and medical supplies are running out. Those wounded in the attacks like the one today, are unable to get medical care and Syrian forces refuse to allow non-combatants to enter the city to replenish food and water or give medical help to those under siege.
In January, the United Nations said that close to 6,000 people had been killed since the conflict began last year, but have not attempted to update that total, even as the government has increased the number and size of its attacks. Some Syrian activist groups put the current number at more than 9,000 casualties.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, five journalists have been killed covering the conflict in Syria since last November, not counting Anthony Shadid of The New York Times, who suffered a fatal asthma attack after sneaking into the country last week. A Syrian blogger named Rami al-Sayed, who had posted numerous videos of the conditions in Homs, was also killed on Tuesday. The deaths of media members pales next to the count of Syria citizens, but the loss of Western reporters brings worldwide attention back to the fighting and also underlines how little the Syrian government is concerned about who gets hurt by their attempts to crush its rebellion.