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Marie Colvin (right), pictured with the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. Arthur Edwards/PA Archive

Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin killed in Syria

A French photographer Remi Ochlik is also thought to have died in heavy shelling of a rebel stronghold in the city of Homs.

Updated 12.45pm

TWO WESTERN JOURNALISTS, including a writer for the Sunday Times newspaper, have been killed in heavy shelling in Syria.

US-born foreign correspondent Marie Colvin and a French photographer, Remi Ochlik, were named as the victims by opposition activists, according to early reports from Reuters. Liverpool-born photographer Paul Conroy was also injured in the attack.

The French government has since confirmed Colvin and Ochlik’s death in the Syrian city of Homs. The Sunday Times writer and her colleague had been staying in the Baba Amr district, a rebel stronghold, which has come under sustained fire from pro-Bashar Assad forces in recent weeks.

Her editor John Witherow said in a statement:

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.

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.

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, who owns the paper, said in a statement:  ”We are doing all we can in the face of shelling and sniper fire to get him [Conroy] to safety and to recover Marie’s body.”

British foreign secretary William Hague said he was “deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic news” of Colvin’s death.

At least 19 other people died, according to AP but other reports said that more than 40 people had died in the shelling of the Syrian city on Tuesday. Thousands have died in the crackdown on protests against Assad’s regime which began last summer.

The house in which Colvin and Ochlik were staying was hit by a shell in sustained violence overnight. The BBC said Colvin was the only British newspaper journalist in the city.

She had reported for Western television channels just yesterday telling the BBC how she had witnessed a baby dying:

I watched a little baby die today. Absolutely horrific… just a two-year-old been hit. They stripped it and they found that the shrapnel had gone into the left chest.

The doctor just said: ‘I can’t do anything’ and his little tummy just kept heaving until he died. That is just happening over and over… no one here can understand how the international community can let this happen.

Both of the deceased were veterans of reporting on conflict in the Middle East and Asia.

Colvin, in her 50s, had reported for the Sunday Times for over two decades from several war zones including Sri Lanka in 2001 where she was blinded in one eye after being hit by shrapnel during fighting between government forces and Tamil Tigers.

Ochlik, 28, had reported from Haiti and covered many of the recent uprisings in the Arab world.

British freelance filmmaker and photojournalist Paul Conroy had been reporting from Syria with Colvin and was injured in the attack.

His father Les told the Liverpool Echo: “We have only just heard – in the last half an hour – that Paul has been injured in the leg and that Marie had been killed.”

- additional reporting from Gavan Reilly and Associated Press

Read: New York Times correspondent dies in Syria >

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