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French journalist killed in strike on humanitarian convoy, officials say

An undated photo of French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff. (BFMTV/Reuters)
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A French photojournalist covering evacuation efforts in eastern Ukraine was killed during a Russian strike that hit the humanitarian truck he was in, officials say.

Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, who was carrying press credentials, was fatally wounded after shrapnel pierced the armored evacuation truck that was about to pick up refugees near Severodonetsk, a focal point of the ongoing battle, according to Ukrainian officials. The shrapnel struck his neck.

Leclerc-Imhoff — the eighth journalist killed while covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine — was remembered by his colleagues at French news outlet BFMTV for his enthusiasm, care and courage. He was 32.

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After the attack, evacuations were called off for the area, one of the last industrial hubs under Ukrainian control in the eastern province, Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region, posted to Telegram on Monday. The truck was about to pick up 10 civilians when it was struck and Leclerc-Imhoff was killed, he said. A police officer in the truck was saved by his helmet, Haidai said, sharing graphic images of the scene. The bloodied truck was marked “HUMANITARIAN AID,” inches from where the projectile appeared to have punctured the thick glass.

BFMTV, where Leclerc-Imhoff had worked for six years, said in a statement that another colleague traveling with him, Maxime Brandstaetter, was “slightly injured.” A fixer who was traveling with them was not wounded.

This was Leclerc-Imhoff’s second mission to Ukraine since the Feb. 24 start of the Russian invasion, BFMTV said.

“This tragic event reminds us of the dangers incurred by all journalists who have been reporting on this conflict at the risk of their lives for more than three months now,” the outlet said in a statement.

The station’s association for its journalists said it was collecting messages to share with his family.

“Frédéric was joyous, enthusiastic, caring, courageous, and a wonderful journalist,” it said in a statement. “He died doing his work as a reporter, on the ground, to show the reality of this conflict.”

The strike came the same day French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna visited Ukraine. She called the journalist’s death “deeply shocking,” and she said she has demanded an investigation into the strike on a humanitarian convoy and reporter.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his condolences to Leclerc-Imhoff’s family and support for war correspondents.

Oleg Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, condemned the killing, saying it was the latest on an expanding “list of Russian crimes against media workers in Ukraine.”

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