The UN Security Council yesterday condemned the killing of a French journalist in the Central African Republic (CAR), saying that those responsible “shall be held accountable.”
The body of 26-year-old Camille Lepage, described by her mother in French media as “an exceptional girl” who wanted to be “a witness to people that are not talked about and who are in danger,” was found on Tuesday by French peacekeepers.
They were checking a vehicle driven by “anti-balaka” militiamen in the town of Bouar, a statement from the French presidency said.
Anti-balaka militias are armed Christian groups battling the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels that seized power in a coup in March last year under former Central African president Michel Djotodia.
The Seleka rebels were replaced with an interim government in January, but splinter groups embarked on a campaign of killing, raping and looting. The two sides have unleashed a wave of tit-for-tat killings that has left thousands dead and close to 1 million displaced.
Speaking earlier during a visit to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, French President Francois Hollande said that Lepage “was taking photographs, doing her job and no doubt fell into an ambush.”
A French military source said she was with the militia to report on the conflict when they were attacked on Monday.
“She was killed by gunfire and her body was recovered by the anti-balaka along with those of their comrades,” said the source adding that an inquiry was under way.
Lepage worked as a photographer for Hans Lucas, a studio in Paris, according to its Web site.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday imposed sanctions against Djotodia, fellow former Central African president Francois Bozize and three other officials, the White House said.
The sanctions aim to send “a powerful message that impunity will not be tolerated, and that those who threaten the stability of the CAR will face consequences,” the White House said in a statement.
The move comes on the heels of council sanctions on Friday last week against three of the same five men, including Bozize.
Hollande said that “at the moment when we learned of the death of this young woman, we also got information of another massacre which took place in Central Africa[n Republic].”
At the weekend, armed men rounded up at least 13 people, locked them inside a home and set it alight, a source said on Tuesday.
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