Ukrainian and French authorities say a French journalist has been killed after an armored evacuation vehicle in which he was traveling was hit by shrapnel from a Russian shell in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk.

In a statement, BFMTV news channel said it was “extremely sad” to announce the death of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, who had worked for her for six years and was on his second tour of the conflict, adding that the journalist and cameraman had been killed on the way to Lysychansk.

Our correspondent covered the ongoing war. “He was hit by shrapnel while he was following a humanitarian operation in an armored vehicle on Monday,” the 24-hour news channel said.

“He was accompanied by his colleague Maxim Brandstätter, who was slightly injured during this strike, and her assistant Oksana Liotta, who was unhurt.” Leclerc-Imhof had reported from the far east of the Ukrainian-controlled city, which had come under heavy attack by Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the journalist “was in Ukraine to show the reality of the war. He was fatally shot on board a humanitarian bus with civilians fleeing Russian bombing. I share his pain with the family of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhof, his relatives and colleagues for whom I offer my condolences.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “A little more than a month ago I gave an interview to this very TV channel. It was my first interview with the French media during the total war. My deepest condolences to Frederick’s colleagues and his family. Became the 32nd member of the media who is killed after February 24th ” .

BFMTV said the tragedy “reminds us of the dangers faced by all journalists who have been covering this conflict and at risk for their lives for more than three months”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international media agency, said more than a dozen journalists were killed while covering the conflict in Ukraine.

France’s new foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, has called for an investigation into Leclerc Imhoff’s death. “France demands an investigation into the circumstances of this drama as quickly and transparently as possible,” she said in a statement.

Luhansk region governor Serhi Heidi said on Telegram that the armored evacuation vehicle “came under enemy fire” as it set out to collect 10 people from the area. There was no immediate comment from the Russian authorities, who have repeatedly denied attacking civilians in Ukraine.

“The shrapnel pierced the car’s armor…He was fatally wounded in the neck by a certified French journalist who was covering the evacuation. A policeman on patrol was rescued with a helmet.”

Andrei Maruchko, a spokesman for the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic, told the Russian news agency TASS that it was unlikely that Leclerc-Imhov was a journalist and claimed to have supplied weapons to Ukrainian forces.

“Not only is he portrayed as a journalist, the Ukrainian media says he’s a volunteer,” Maruchko said. “We do not rule out that he carried weapons and ammunition into the city,” he added [Ukrainian] Army sites. That is why such a sad fate befell him. I would not call him a journalist because all his activities might have been of a different nature.

It could be called a foreign mercenary. We can say for sure that he was a partner in the far-right Ukrainian armed forces because we noticed the kind of help these volunteers provide. They provide weapons and ammunition capable of killing civilians.”

Efforts to evacuate civilians from the area were halted after the deaths of Russian tanks and troops in Severodonetsk – the largest Donbass city still under Ukrainian control.

Witnesses said Russian tanks were advancing towards the city center in one explosion after another, destroying everything in their path after intense shelling that Ukrainian authorities said brought the situation to the ground, remembering Mariupol.

“Your presence [the Russian army] Using the same tactics over and over again.” “They shoot for hours at a time—three, four, five—and then attack. Whoever attacks dies. Then follows bombardment and attack again and so forth until they break through somewhere.”

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Witnesses said the city was being bombed “200 times an hour” as Russian forces tried to cut lines of reinforcements and encircle the remaining defenders.

The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, confirmed in a phone interview with the Associated Press that Russian forces had advanced “a few blocks towards the city centre.” He said that Ukrainian forces were trying to drive out the Russians in street fighting and that 12,000 to 13,000 civilians remained in the city, protected from constant bombardment in basements and bunkers.

The Battle for Sievierodonetsk, which lies on the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River 90 miles south of the Russian border, is in the spotlight as Russia makes slow but strong gains in the industrial Donbass, which includes the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. .