Wed February 22, 2012
Journalist Marie Colvin Killed In Syrian Shelling
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times in London spent a career documenting the peril that others faced, which meant the American reporter shared their danger. Her paper says she was killed today by artillery fire that struck the Syrian city of Homs. French officials affirm a French photojournalist has also been killed.
Colvin was a longtime war correspondent who appeared several times on this program, notably from Libya. Last night from Syria, she told CNN that Syria was worse than other conflicts she'd covered.
(SOUNDBITE OF CNN BROADCAST)
MARIE COLVIN: It's partly personal safety, I guess. There's nowhere to run. The Syrian army is holding the perimeter. And just the terror of the people and, you know, the helplessness of these families hiding on the first floor, just - all they can do is hope it doesn't hit them. That's very, very difficult to watch.
INSKEEP: Colvin's colleagues include James Hider, who's working on her obituary for the Sunday Times. Mr. Hider, welcome back to the program.
JAMES HIDER: Hi.
INSKEEP: Can you give us your best information about what happened?
HIDER: Well, it seems that Marie and her colleagues were in a makeshift press center in Homs when a rocket landed on the building, and she and the 29-year-old French photojournalist were killed outright. Her Sunday Times photographer was injured in the leg, and another French female journalist was also injured. And they're being cared for in a makeshift hospital there.
INSKEEP: And I suppose we should mention that this is part of a bombardment that has been going on for weeks and striking civilians all over Homs.
HIDER: Well, that's why Marie was there. Homs is completely cut off from the outside world. It's being fired into by heavy artillery point blank. She wrote a very moving report just the other day saying that there's women and children in a shelter, one of the few basements where you can actually take come kind of cover. They call it the widow's basement. There were 300 women and children in there, lost their families, nowhere to go, couldn't be evacuated, and just painted a horrific picture of the human suffering inside Homs.
INSKEEP: Which is characteristic of the work that she did for decades.
HIDER: Yes. I mean, almost every frontline in a warzone I've been to, Marie was there. She was quite often the first person there. And more often than not, she was the only person there. And very few people have actually managed to get into Homs. And it was no surprise that Marie was one of the first to go in and to stay there and bear witness in the way that she did.
INSKEEP: Those who know her or who saw her on television know that she wore an eye patch, which, because of the way that she got it, suggests the dedication of this correspondent, I would think.
HIDER: Yes. Yes. She lost her left eye in a grenade attack, crossing a front line in Sri Lanka in 2001. And that never slowed her down, and she never got a prosthetic eye. She always wore the eye patch, which was, obviously, extremely distinctive. And it was always kind of reassuring to see her, you know, with her eye patch on, you know, at the front line.
INSKEEP: What kept her going to one warzone after another, do you think?
HIDER: She was just one of those dedicated people who felt that she had to be there, you know, she would always be ready to be called up. And she cared. She just didn't want these people to be - that seemed to be suffering in silence to not have a voice. In particular, in this case, where Homs is just cut off from the outside world and the government - its own government is destroying it building by building, I think she just felt that she had to be there and to give a voice to these people who otherwise would just be statistics.
INSKEEP: And we should mention, you are among those who go from war to war yourself. How much do correspondents talk about this possibility, that one of their own will be killed?
HIDER: I don't think we talk about it that much. I mean, yeah, we talk about it a lot when it happens, but it's one of those things that you do live with. I mean, the last time I worked alongside Marie was in Misrata in Libya last year, which was, again, another city that was surrounded and being bombarded. And you go in there, you do your job, and, you know, you often have a sort of gallows humor about the risks. But it's not something you really dwell on. But, yeah, we do talk about it sometimes. But it's not something you can really do much about in these situations.
INSKEEP: Well, James Hider, thanks for helping us to remember Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times, who's been killed in Syria. Thank you very much.
HIDER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.