French BFMTV Journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff Killed in Ukraine as Russian Forces Advance in Donbas

French BFMTV Journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff Killed in Ukraine as Russian Forces Advance in Donbas

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French BFMTV Journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff Killed in Ukraine as Russian Forces Advance in Donbas

A French journalist has been killed in eastern Ukraine as Russian troops have moved into a crucial city in the Donbas. Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff died after being hit in the neck while sitting in an evacuation vehicle which came under fire.

“Journalist, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was in Ukraine to show the reality of the war,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Monday. “On board a humanitarian bus, alongside civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombs, he was fatally shot. I share the pain of the family, relatives and colleagues of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, to whom I send my condolences. To those who carry out the difficult mission of informing in theaters of operations, I would like to reiterate France’s unconditional support.”

BFMTV, the French news channel where Leclerc-Imhoff worked, put out a statement with “immense pain” confirming the killing. “He was accompanied by his colleague Maxime Brandstaetter, who was slightly injured during this strike, and their ‘fixer’ Oksana Leuta, who was not affected,” the BFMTV statement read. It continued: “32-year-old Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff had worked for our channel for six years. He was a graduate of the Institute of Journalism Bordeaux Aquitaine. It was his second mission to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, which began on February 24. ”

In a post on social media app Telegram, Luhansk Oblast governor Serhiy Haidai followers an evacuation was halted after the deadly attack. His post was accompanied by extremely graphic pictures showing a body lying on the sidewalk and a blood-splattered truck cab. “Today our armored evacuation vehicle was going to pick up 10 people from the area and came under enemy fire,” Haidai wrote, adding: “A fatal to the neck was wound received by an accredited French journalist who was making material about the evacuation, a patrol policeman was rescued by a helmet.”

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian foreign ministry, said the deadly attack took place near Severodonetsk in a tweet. “The list of Russian crimes against media workers in Ukraine keeps expanding,” he added.

Russian troops on Monday started moving into Severodonetsk—the biggest city in the Donbas still under Ukrainian control—representing an escalation in the Kremlin’s efforts to take control of the entire region. The city has come under heavy shelling recently, with two civilians reported dead in the latest barrages. Some 90 percent of its buildings have been damaged in the fighting, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised speech. “Capturing Severodonetsk is a fundamental task for the occupiers,” Zelensky added. “We do all we can to hold this advance.”

News of Leclerc-Imhoff’s death is just the latest report of a journalist being killed in Ukraine since the beginning of Putin’s invasion. On March 13, American filmmaker Brent Renaud was shot and killed in Irpin, Kyiv Oblast, while covering the conflict. The following day, veteran Fox News cameraman was fatally wounded alongside Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova in Horenka, outside Kyiv, when their vehicle came under fire. Two Daily Beast correspondents were shot in Eastern Ukraine but survived the attack.

Catherine Colonna, the French foreign minister, was in Kyiv when reports of Leclerc-Imhoff’s killing surfaced. “Fr demands that a transparent investigation should be shed as soon as possible to full light on the circumstances of this tragedy,” Colonna said in a statement. “France reaffirms its constant and determined commitment, throughout the world, to press freedom and the protection of journalists and all those whose expression contributes to free information and public debate.”