France demands answers about death of journalist killed in Ukraine

France’s new foreign minister has demanded a “transparent investigation” into the death of a French journalist in Ukraine. 

Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, a journalist with the channel BFMTV, was covering an evacuation near the city of Severodonetsk when he was killed by shell shrapnel, his employer said.

The 32-year-old was accompanying civilians as they fled from fierce fighting in an armoured vehicle. In a press release Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who was in Ukraine on Monday, described the death as “deeply shocking”. 

She demanded a full investigation be conducted “as soon as possible, to shed full light on the circumstances of this tragedy.” 

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed the death earlier on Monday. He wrote that Leclerc-Imhoff had been there “to show the reality of the war” and had been “fatally wounded” in a bomb blast.

“I share the grief of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff’s family, friends and colleagues, to whom I send my condolences,” he continued. “I would like to reiterate France’s unconditional support for those who carry out the difficult task of providing information in theatres of operation.”

Earlier on Monday, the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, wrote on Telegram that Russian forces had fired on an armoured vehicle picking people up for evacuation.

“Shrapnel from the shells pierced the vehicle’s armour, fatally wounding an accredited French journalist in the neck,” Haidai said. “The patrol officer was saved by his helmet.” The operation was reportedly called off as a result of the attack.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said another French journalist had been wounded along with a Ukrainian woman accompanying them. The patrol officer was also hit in the head and taken to a military hospital.

Leclerc-Imhoff’s body, he said, was taken to the nearby Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut. It will later be taken to the central city of Dnipro for an autopsy.

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