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French TV cameraman killed in Syria

A French TV cameraman has been killed in Syria during a government-authorised trip to the troubled city of Homs.

Gilles Jacquier, 43, is first Western journalist to die since the country's uprising began 10 months ago.

Mr Jacquier, who worked for France-2 TV Television, was with a group hit by several grenades. Up to six Syrian civilians also were killed.

"France 2 Television has just learned with great pain about the death of reporter Gilles Jacquier in Homs, Syria, in circumstances that must still be clarified," the network said.

A Dutch freelance journalist also was wounded in Homs and treated in a local hospital and released.

The circumstances of the violence were unclear, but reporter Jens Franssen said he was among about 15 journalists who were taken on a tour of the city. "At some point, three or four (grenade) shells hit, very close to us," he said.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said: "It's up to Syrian authorities to ensure the security of international journalists on their territory, and to protect this fundamental liberty which is the freedom of information," he said in a statement.

Mr Jacquier had reported over the years from violence-racked places like Afghanistan, Gaza, Congo, Iraq and Yemen - most recently for the investigative programme Special Envoy. Thierry Thuillier, news director of France Televisions, the parent station of France-2, said Mr Jacquier appeared to have been killed by a mortar or rocket as part of a series of attacks.

Several Syrian journalists have been killed or tortured as they tried to cover the uprising, which has proven the most severe challenge to President Bashar Assad's 40-year family dynasty.

The revolt has become increasingly violent in recent months, with the regime and the opposition blaming each other for several mysterious attacks. After three blasts in the capital, Damascus, since December 23, the government has blamed "terrorists" and said the bloodshed backed up its claim that the uprising was the work of terrorists and conspirators. The opposition denies that and demands independent investigations. They say the regime itself is likely behind the violence, as a way to tarnish the uprising.

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