French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to slain journalist Gilles Jacquier, who he said was doing his journalist’s duty of “telling the truth about what is happening.”
“This reminds us all of the difficulties of the journalists’ profession, the dangers which they risk, and at the same time the importance of what they do, in regimes which are as they are, in situations which are as they, having courageous men and women to tell the truth of what is happening," Sarkozy said of the first Western journalist killed during Syria’s current unrest
More from GlobalPost: French journalist killed in Syria
Jacquier, 43, was killed in the restive city of Homs Wednesday while on a government-authorized trip to the city, the state TV channel France 2 said. He was one of eight who were killed during a pro-government gathering.
Jacquier was a noted reporter for France’s acclaimed flagship documentary program, Envoyé Spécial, for the France 2 channel. He has received a French Pulitzer price equivalent, the Prix Albert Londres in 2003 for his work on the second intifada, the Guardian reported.
The death of the French TV reporter has sparked anger from activist groups and France. "We vigorously condemn this odious act," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement.
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Jacquier was part of a group of 15 foreign reporters being escorted by soldiers and police in Homs to speak to locals, according to the BBC.
The BBC further describes the event leading up to the eight that were killed:
A grenade fell close to them minutes after they had spoken to some young people and they fled into a nearby building, he told the BBC. More grenades hit the building causing casualties.
"There was smoke everywhere, people started screaming and yelling. There was complete chaos," a colleague of Jacquier said.
Jacquier was behind him when he went into the building, but he saw him lying dead a few minutes later, he added.
More than 400 people have been killed since Arab League monitors entered Syria in late December and more than 5,000 have died since the government uprising began last February, according to the UN.