BEIRUT (Reuters) - A British photographer wounded in a Syrian army bombardment of Homs was smuggled safely into neighbouring Lebanon Tuesday, but several Syrians were killed in the rescue and the fate of other journalists trapped with him was unclear.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had been informed that French journalist Edith Bouvier, whose femur was shattered during heavy shelling of Homs’s rebel-held Baba Amro district, had been evacuated, but he later dampened expectations.
“It has not been confirmed that today she is safe in Lebanon,” Sarkozy said.
Campaign group Avaaz said they had planned photographer Paul Conroy’s rescue but believed Bouvier was still in Homs, where the veteran Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed on February 22.
Avaaz said it had worked with Syrian activists, of whom 13 had been killed in the last few days during attempts to evacuate foreign journalists and wounded Syrians from Homs.
“Paul Conroy’s rescue today is a huge relief but this must be tempered with the news that three remain unaccounted for and with our respects for the incredibly courageous activists who died during the evacuation attempts,” said Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel in a statement.
Britain’s Sunday Times said Conroy, who was wounded in the leg in last week’s attacks, was in good health.
“He is in good shape and in good spirits,” it said.
One Avaaz campaigner said journalists Javier Espinosa and William Daniels were believed to be still in Homs.
British media quoted Conroy’s family expressing relief over his escape to Lebanon.
“I have heard that he is out. All I can say is that we are delighted and overjoyed at the news,” Conroy’s wife Kate said.
Conroy had worked previously with Colvin, an American, including in Libya, where they were among the few journalists reporting from inside the port city of Misrata during a prolonged siege last year by troops loyal to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, Peter Griffiths in London, writing by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Alistair Lyon