PARIS (Reuters) -France on Monday called for an investigation after a French journalist was killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was travelling in, which was being used to evacuate civilians near the city of Sievierodonetsk, was hit by shelling.
“France demands that a probe be carried out as soon as possible and in transparency on the circumstances of this drama,” Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who was in Ukraine on Monday, said in a statement.
Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, the latest journalist killed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, was on his second reporting trip for French television channel BFM in Ukraine, his employer said.
The governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said in a post on the messaging service Telegram that an armoured transport vehicle was hit by shrapnel from a Russian shell, killing the journalist. An attached picture showed a truck that appeared to have been adapted with armour.
The evacuation effort was suspended after the strike, he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Leclerc-Imhoff was the 32nd media person killed since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
“My sincere condolences to Frederic’s colleagues and family,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Moscow has repeatedly denied that its forces target civilians in Ukraine.
Colonna said on Twitter that she had spoken to the Luhansk governor and had asked Zelenskiy for an investigation.
Both had assured her of their help and support.
“It is a double crime to target a humanitarian convoy and a journalist,” she said.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter: “Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was in Ukraine to show the reality of the war. Onboard a humanitarian bus with civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombs, he was mortally wounded.”
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Conor Humphries, Max Hunder;Editing by GV De Clercq, Alison Williams and Leslie Adler)