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Killing Continues In Syria, Two Western Journalists Among Victims

There's more deadly news today from Syria:

"Syrian troops and militia loyal to President Bashar Assad captured and then shot dead 27 young men in northern villages and two foreign journalists were killed in shelling of the besieged city of Homs, activists said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

The Associated Press adds that "a Syrian activist said two foreign journalists were killed Wednesday by Syrian government forces shelling the restive central city of Homs. The report could not be immediately confirmed.

Update at 7:50 a.m. ET. Marie Colvin In 2010: "It's Really Never Been More Dangerous To Be A War Correspondent."

Marie Colvin, one of the reporters said to have been killed today, was an occasional guest on NPR broadcasts, reporting from trouble spots around the world. In 2010, she talked about the dangers that war correspondents face. There's video here.

Update at 7:35 a.m. ET. Confirmation Of The Other Journalist's Death.

As The New York Times writes: "Valérie Pécresse, the French government spokeswoman, identified the dead as Marie Colvin, an American reporter working for The Sunday Times of London, and Rémi Ochlik, a French photographer."

Update at 7:25 a.m. ET. Confirmation Of One Identity From The Sunday Times.

John Witherow, editor of the The Sunday Times, just issued a statement saying that one of the journalists killed was Marie Colvin, an American, who worked for the newspaper. He says:

"I want to report with great shock the sad news of the death of Marie Colvin in Syria today. We have reliable reports that Marie was killed in Homs while covering the devastating bombardment by the Syrian army. She was with Paul Conroy, the freelance photographer, who was injured in the attack. We do not know the extent of his wounds but the early reports suggest he is not too seriously hurt. We are doing what we can to get him to safety and to recover Marie's body.

"Marie was an extraordinary figure in the life of The Sunday Times, driven by a passion to cover wars in the belief that what she did mattered. She believed profoundly that reporting could curtail the excesses of brutal regimes and make the international community take notice. Above all, as we saw in her powerful report last weekend, her thoughts were with the victims of violence.

"Throughout her long career she took risks to fulfil this goal, including being badly injured in Sri Lanka. Nothing seemed to deter her. But she was much more than a war reporter. She was a woman with a tremendous joie de vivre, full of humour and mischief and surrounded by a large circle of friends, all of whom feared the consequences of her bravery.

"Marie was recruited to The Sunday Times more than a quarter of a century ago by David Blundy, her predecessor as Middle East correspondent, who was himself killed in El Salvador in 1989. It shows the risks that foreign correspondents are prepared to take in the pursuit of the truth. Marie will be missed sorely by all of us and her many friends."

From our original post:

Reuters adds that:

"Violence continued to spread. Several YouTube videos taken by local activists in Idlib, which could not be independently confirmed, showed bodies of young men with bullet wounds and hands tied lying dead in streets. The men, all civilians, were mostly shot in the head or chest on Tuesday in their homes or in streets in the villages of Idita, Iblin and Balshon in Idlib province near the border with Turkey, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said."

All this comes, the AP says, as "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to ramp up diplomatic efforts against President Bashar Assad's regime on a trip to North Africa this week, [and] some countries begin to explore the possibility of arming Syria's rebels."

Tuesday, as we reported, Syrian citizen journalist Rami al-Sayed was killed during shelling in Homs.

Note: Al-Jazeera, Reuters and some other news outlets earlier reported the names of the journalists who are said to have been killed before we included that information in this post. Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, posted a statement on Twitter saying he is "saddened by [the] terrible news" of Colvin's death. And British Prime Minister David Cameron paid a tribute to her during "question time" in parliament, the BBC says. We held off on reporting their names until there were multiple statements from several sources (The Sunday Times and the French government, most notably).

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.