Two foreign journalists buried in Syria as 2 flee



Two foreign journalists buried in Syria as 2 flee Beirut: Two Western journalists killed in the Syrian city of Homs last week have been buried in the embattled neighbourhood where they died, according to activist videos, while two other reporters escaped into neighbouring Lebanon.

The videos and the escape yesterday were steps toward the end of the ordeal of six Western journalists who sneaked into Syria illegally to report on the uprising against President Bashar Assad and found themselves trapped inside the besieged Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr.

Complicating the picture, the Syrian government said late yesterday, it had found the bodies of three Western journalists including that of one who entered Lebanon Wednesday and would return them to their countries.

A government rocket attack last week on a makeshift media centre they were sharing with Syrian activists killed two of the journalists and wounded two others, drawing attention to their presence in one of the most dangerous places in a country on the verge of civil war. It also led to intense work by diplomats, activists and the Red Cross to try to get them out.

American reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the February 22 attack that also wounded French reporter Edith Bouvier and British photographer Paul Conroy. Also stuck in the rebel-held neighbourhood, which has been under a tight government siege and daily shelling for nearly four weeks, were Javier Espinosa of Spain and William Daniels of France.

Late yesterday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Bouvier and Daniels had been successfully smuggled across the border into Lebanon. Conroy and Espinosa were both smuggled into Lebanon this week in an operation that activists said killed 13 people.

"I had (Bouvier) on the phone. She is with her colleague, outside Syria," Sarkozy said during an impromptu news briefing in Brussels. "She has suffered a lot, but she will give the details herself."

Also yesterday, activists posted videos online showing the burials of Colvin and Ochlik.

In the videos, a man who says he is Dr Mohammed Ahmed al-Mohammed and who frequently appears in videos from the neighbourhood, says activists decided to bury the two on February 27 because the neighbourhood lacked electricity to keep the bodies refrigerated. They had started to decay, he says.

PTI