Sunday Times editor John Witherow and News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch have paid tribute to award-winning foreign correspondent Marie Colvin.
Witherow has confirmed that Colvin was killed in the Syrian city of Homs working alongside freelance photographer Paul Conroy, who was also injured in an attack by Syrian government forces.
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‘We do not know the extent of his wounds but the early reports suggest he is not too seriously hurt,’said Witherow. ‘We are doing what we can to get him to safety and to recover Marie’s body.’
The French government has confirmed that veteran foreign correspondent Colvin died alongside French photographer Remi Ochlik when the house where they were staying came under fire.
‘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,’said Witherow.
‘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.”
He added: ‘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.”
Colvin was recruited to The Sunday Times 25 years ago by David Blundy, her predecessor as Middle East correspondent, who was killed in El Salvador in 1989.
Witherow said her death showed ‘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.”
In a separate statement News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch said: ‘It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Marie Colvin, one of the most outstanding foreign correspondents of her generation, who was killed in Homs in Syria today while reporting for The Sunday Times.
“She was a victim of a shell attack by the Syrian army on a building that had been turned into an impromptu press centre by the rebels. Our photographer, Paul Conroy, was with her and is believed to have been injured. We are doing all we can in the face of shelling and sniper fire to get him to safety and to recover Marie’s body.
‘Marie had fearlessly covered wars across the Middle East and south Asia for 25 years for The Sunday Times. She put her life in danger on many occasions because she was driven by a determination that the misdeeds of tyrants and the suffering of the victims did not go unreported.
‘This was at great personal cost, including the loss of the sight in one eye while covering the civil war in Sri Lanka. This injury did not stop her from returning to even more dangerous assignments. Our immediate thoughts are with her family.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet has also paid tribute to Colvin.
She said: ‘We send our condolences to Marie’s family and the family of Remi Ochlik, also killed in the attack. Marie was an excellent reporter who said that her mission was ‘to report the horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice’.
‘She did that with bravery and grace. The unspeakable violence that the government of Syria is meting on its own people is something it does not want the eyes of the rest of the world to see. Marie and her colleagues knew they had to be there to shine a torch on such atrocities, with the consequent risk to their lives.”