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France

Shock and anger at French journalists' murder in Mali

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-04

The killing of two French journalists in Mali has prompted widespread outrage and triggered an outpouring of grief and anger at the "heinous crime" of targeting journalists working in conflict zones.

Saturday’s abduction and slaying of two French journalists in northern Mali has prompted widespread outrage and triggered an outpouring of grief and anger at the ”heinous crime” of targeting journalists working in conflict zones.

Journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, both of France 24’s sister station Radio France Internationale, were found dead 12km outside of Kidal on Saturday afternoon, just hours after being kidnapped by unknown gunmen.

The journalists had travelled to Kidal to interview a spokesman for the Tuareg separatist group MNLA, and were abducted outside his home.

French President François Hollande expressed “his indignation at this despicable act” and held an emergency meeting at the Elysée Palace on Sunday for talks aimed at shedding light on the double murder.

Hollande’s office also reiterated the French and Malian authorities’ determination “to relentlessly pursue the fight against terrorist groups in northern Mali”.

'We just lost two amazing colleagues'

In a statement posted on Facebook, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boucabar Keita expressed his condolences and lashed out at what he said was “a cowardly and barbaric act.”

The UN Security Council issued a statement “strongly condemning” the abduction and killing and said that “journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict are generally considered as civilians and should be respected and protected as such.”

The UN also called on Mali to ”swiftly” investigate the case “and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

A spokesman for European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was “great sadness” on hearing news of the incident, describing the deaths as a “heinous crime” which must not go “unpunished”.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the “execution of two journalists at RFI… is an unspeakable and disgusting act.”

“Journalists that have the courage to cover a region like Kidal and are found killed in cold blood – it not only prompts outrage, but also a deep disgust” they added.

Grief, shock at RFI’s headquarters in Paris

At RFI’s headquarters in Paris, the grief was palpable.

Marie-Christine Saragosse, the President of RFI, FRANCE 24 and Monte-Carlo Doualiya (MCD) told the RFI evening news bulletin: “As usual, they were doing a special report two weeks before the legislative elections. They wanted the voices of all of the Malian people to be heard, in a spirit of reconciliation.”

She added: “Our anger will make us even more determined not to let these barbarians gag us.”

Nicolas Champeaux, a fellow journalist at RFI’s Africa desk, told FRANCE 24 on Sunday morning that Dupont was “a tenacious reporter, always trying to dig for more, to dig for something else, to dig for something other journalists wouldn’t have. (She wanted) to get closer to the action, on the frontline but also on the telephone, to find the best source of information.”

He said Verlon always “wanted to ensure that the sound quality of our broadcasts was the best, and he went to great lengths to make sure that it was the case all the time, whether on live broadcast from a noisy demonstration in Benghazi or a special 3-day outside broadcast. For the elections in Ivory Coast, sometimes he would create and invent an entire studio on the hotel roof in Abidjan”.

Champeaux was adamant that the murders would not interfere with RFI’s future reporting from Mali.

“We want to be very clear about this, we will carry on doing our work. We have two correspondents in Mali, based in Bamako, and Paris will continue sending us to Mali to report. But people have to understand you can not just target journalists, its one thing to go on the frontline and to be shot and maybe killed. Reporters take risks and that’s part of the job, but to be targeted as a journalist is simply not acceptable.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-11-03

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