More details have emerged surrounding the death of The Sunday Times’ veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin last week.
The 56-year-old reporter was killed in the besieged Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday alongside French photographer Remi Ochlik when the house where they were staying was shelled.
Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy was injured in the attack alongside several other foreign journalistsand he remains trapped in the town amid ongoing efforts to secure his release.
Yesterday the Sunday Times detailed Colvin’s final hours in the Baba Amr district of Homs.
She was staying at a building being used as a makeshift press centre, and alongside the other Western journalists had followed the Middle Eastern custom of taking off her shoes when she entered.
She was on the ground floor of the building when rockets hit the upper floors and exploded.
The journalists, including three French nationals and a Spaniard, were said to be covered in dust and uninjured – but fearing the building was being targeted they ‘prepared to flee but had to retrieve their shoes first”.
The Sunday Times report stated: ‘Colvin ran to the hall, where she had left hers. As she reached it, a rocket landed at the front of the building, a few yards from her. The blast killed her and RÃ©mi Ochlik, a French photojournalist, instantly, burying them in debris.
‘Conroy, who was in a nearby room, was hit by shrapnel in the leg and stomach; and Edith Bouvier, a French journalist, suffered multiple leg fractures. William Daniels, also French, and Javier Espinosa, a Spaniard, escaped unhurt deeper inside the building.
‘The survivors managed to reach a field clinic with the help of anti-government activists who were able to retrieve the bodies hours later after the rocket and shellfire had subsided.’
Colvin decided to go to Syria at the beginning of February because she felt the ‘truth needed to be told’about President Bashar Assad’s murderous regime.
When she struggled to obtain a visa from the Syrian government she she flew to Beirut and found her own way to cross the border via a Syrian smuggler.
Meanwhile, The Sunday Times also reported yesterday that ‘there was still a fading hope’that a ‘desperate attempt’would rescue Conroy, who was said to need urgent medical attention.
It reported that one evacuation attempt had run into trouble soon after getting under way ‘because of the distrust between the two sides during a ceasefire”, with Syrian officials saying the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) had prevented Syrian Red Crescent ambulances from reaching the journalists.
An earlier resuce on Friday was said to have failed because ‘the journalists had refused to leave, fearing the evacuation was a trick”
It added: ‘Conroy was reported to be refusing to leave without Colvin’s body despite being in danger of potentially life-threatening infection if his wounds were not treated.
‘Colvin’s boyfriend sent an emotional message saying she had always been concerned about the living and ‘please let no more people die … for her body’.’
The Press Association is today reporting that a third attempt is being prepared to rescue Conroy and Bouvier.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy was quoted saying: “We have the beginning of a solution” and that “it seems that things are starting to get unblocked” after days of failed attempts.