French journalist dies after landmine blast in ISIS-besieged Mosul
“It’s with great sadness, we announce… the death of journalist Veronique Robert who succumbed to her wounds after an explosion in Mosul, Iraq,” public national television broadcaster France Televisions said in a statement on Saturday. Robert, 54, was a Swiss-born reporter, working for French media.
Earlier in June, the journalist and her colleagues were accompanying Iraqi special forces in Mosul, where Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has set numerous booby traps.
The journalists were working for #5 Bis Productions company filming the program Envoye Special for France 2 TV channel.
French journalist Stephan Villeneuve and Iraqi Kurdish reporter Bakhtiyar Addad were killed in the incident. Their colleague, independent journalist Samuel Forey, received light injuries.
Robert underwent surgery in Baghdad and was transported to Percy hospital near Paris on Thursday night, France Televisions said.
“A specialist in war zones, she covered many conflicts in the Middle East, notably in Iraq,” the statement added.
Robert’s producer, Nicolas Jaillard, wrote on Facebook that he had been hoping for better news, calling Robert “an extraordinary woman.”
“The word sadness is not enough to describe how we feel,” he said.
The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) group expressed condolences to Roberts’ colleagues and family.
“There are too many headstones in the cemetery of great reporters who died while performing their duties,” RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said.
Robert’s death is just one of a series of deaths of reporters who are “greatly attached” to their job and who believe that “it is an honor for journalists to be witnesses of human tragedies,” he added.
Deloire said earlier that Iraq is the deadliest country for journalists. According to the RSF tally, a total of 28 “professional and non-professional journalists” have been killed in the country since the beginning of 2014.
“War is obviously dangerous, but every death or injury is a victim too many. No one should have to pay such a high price just for reporting the news,” he said.
The US-backed operation to retake Mosul from the terrorist group was launched in October of 2016. Earlier in June, Iraqi forces pressed into the Old City where the remaining jihadists have been holed up with air support from the US-led coalition and backing from Shiite militias and the Kurdish peshmerga on the ground. According to UN estimates, around 100,000 civilians are still trapped in the area.