|This is an undated image made available Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 by the Sunday Times in London of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin photographed in Tahrir square in Cairo. The French government spokeswoman on Wednesday identified two Western reporters killed in Syria as American war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik . Colvin, from Oyster Bay, New York, had been a foreign correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times for two decades, reporting from the world's most dangerous places. She lost the sight in one eye in Sri Lanka in 2001 but did not let that deter her.(AP Photo/Ivor Prickett Sunday Times)|
LONDON (AP) — She was instantly
recognizable for the eye patch that hid a shrapnel injury — a testament to
Marie Colvin's courage, which took her behind
the front lines of the world's deadliest conflicts to write about the suffering
of individuals trapped in war.
After more than two decades of
chronicling conflict, Colvin became a victim of
it Wednesday, killed by shelling in the besieged Syrian city of Homs.
56, died alongside French photojournalist Remi Ochlik, the French government
announced. Freelance photographer Paul Conroy and journalist Edith Bouvier of
Le Figaro were wounded.
from East Norwich, New York, had been a foreign correspondent for Britain's
Sunday Times for more than 25 years, making a specialty of reporting from the
world's most dangerous places. The newspaper posted her final dispatch outside
the website's paywall, so anyone could read her account from a cellar offering
refuge for women and children. The report chronicled the horrors that
eventually took her own life.
"It is a city of the cold and
hungry, echoing to exploding shells and bursts of gunfire," Colvin wrote. "There are no telephones and the
electricity has been cut off. ... Freezing rain fills potholes and snow drifts
in through windows empty of glass. No shops are open, so families are sharing
what they have with relatives and neighbors. Many of the dead and injured are
those who risked foraging for food.
|This is an undated image made available Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 by the Sunday Times in London of journalist Marie Colvin. A French government spokeswoman on Wednesday identified two Western reporters killed in Homs, Syria as American war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik . Colvin, from Oyster Bay, New York, had been a foreign correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times for two decades, reporting from the world's most dangerous places. She lost the sight in one eye in Sri Lanka in 2001 but did not let that deter her.(AP Photo/Sunday Times)|
"Fearing the snipers' merciless
eyes, families resorted last week to throwing bread across rooftops, or
breaking through communal walls to pass unseen."
Colvin often focused on the plight of women and children in wartime, and Syria was no
different. She gave interviews to major British broadcasters on the eve of her
death, appealing for the world to notice the slaughter taking place.
"I watched a little baby die
today," she told the BBC on Tuesday. "Absolutely horrific, a 2-year
old child had been hit. They stripped it and found the shrapnel had gone into
the left chest and the doctor said 'I can't do anything.' His little tummy just
kept heaving until he died."
In the 1990s, Colvin
worked in the Balkans, where she went on patrol with the Kosovo Liberation Army
as it engaged Serb military forces. She worked in Chechnya, where she came
under fire from Russian jets while reporting on Chechen rebels seeking
independence for their region. She also covered the conflict in East Timor
after its people voted for independence in Southeast Asia.
She was one of the few reporters to
interview ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in his final days before his
death in October. Her mother, Rosemarie Colvin,
of East Norwich, N.Y., told The Associated Press that her daughter knew Gadhafi
well, and described her daughter as a passionate about her work, even when it
got very hard.
|FILE - In this Tuesday, April 17, 2001 file photo Sri Lankan army medical staff examine journalist Marie Colvin at a field hospital in Vavuniya, 210 kilometers (131 miles) northeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka . Colvin, an award winning American journalist working for Britain's Sunday Times newspaper was caught in the skirmish between Sri Lankan government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels near the northern town of Vavuniya . Respected American war reporter Marie Colvin, who covered conflicts from Sri Lanka to Syria and stood up for the importance of independent journalism, died in a shelling attack in Syria on Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. She was in her 50s. . (AP Photo/Government Information Department, File)|
"She was supposed to leave (Syria)
today," Rosemarie Colvin said, adding that
her daughter had spoken yesterday with her editor who ordered her to leave
because it was so dangerous. "She had to stay. She wanted to finish one
The eldest of five children, Colvin is survived by her mother, two sisters and two
brothers. Rosemarie Colvin invited reporters
into her home, fighting back the tears.
"The reason I've been talking to
all you guys is that I don't want my daughter's legacy to be 'no comment ...
because she wasn't a 'no comment' person,'" she said. "Her legacy is:
Be passionate and be involved in what you believe in. And do it as thoroughly
and honestly and fearlessly as you can."
A graduate of Yale University, Colvin had never planned to be a journalist. She had
studied anthropology, later taking the rigorous study of people and places and
putting it to good use writing about individuals caught up in suffering to
relay the horror of war.
"Our mission is to speak the truth
to power," she said during a tribute service for slain journalists at
Fleet Street's St. Bride's Church in November 2010. "We send home that
first rough draft of history. We can and do make a difference in exposing the
horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians."
Colvin's death comes only days after two other respected journalists died while
reporting on the uprising against Syria's president, Bashar Assad. Two-time
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Anthony Shadid, a correspondent for The New
York Times, died last week of an apparent asthma attack while slipping out of
|FILE - In this file photo dated Nov. 10, 2010 the Duchess of Cornwall speaks with journalist Marie Colvin, right, in London. A French government spokeswoman on Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 identified two Western reporters killed in Syria as American war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik. Colvin, from Oyster Bay, New York, had been a foreign correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times for two decades, reporting from the world's most dangerous places. She lost the sight in one eye in Sri Lanka in 2001 but did not let that deter her. (AP Photo/Arthur Edwards, pool, file)|
Award-winning French TV reporter Gilles
Jacquier was killed in an explosion in Homs on Jan. 11, becoming the first Western
journalist to die since the uprising began. His colleagues believe he was
murdered in an elaborate trap set up by Syrian authorities — a claim that
Assad's government has denied.
Colvin lost the sight in one eye during an ambush in Sri Lanka in 2001 but promised
not to "hang up my flak jacket" and kept reporting on the world's
most troubled places. She was matter of fact about the injury during the
tribute at St. Bride's, as she described how authorities will try to keep the
truth out of the headlines.
"I had gone to the northern Tamil
area from which journalists were banned and found an unreported humanitarian
disaster," she said. "As I was smuggled back across the internal
border, a soldier launched a grenade at me and the shrapnel sliced into my face
and chest. He knew what he was doing."
British Prime Minister David Cameron
led the tributes to Colvin, telling lawmakers in
the House of Commons that the death of the "talented and respected foreign
correspondent" was "a desperately sad reminder of the risks
journalists take to inform the world of what is happening and the dreadful
events in Syria."
Author Salman Rushdie, who spent years
in hiding from death threats, sent a message to his followers on Twitter,
noting that it was "dreadful news. A great reporter, fine writer and
fearless woman is gone. Her many friends are devastated."
Colvin's boss, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, described her as "one of the most
outstanding foreign correspondents of her generation."
But the tributes also described a woman
intent on living life to the full. She was often compared to pioneering war
correspondent Martha Gellhorn — gutsy and glamorous, taking each day as it
"She lived life
passionately," said BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet. "Great shoes,
Associated Press Writers Frank Eltman
in New York and Jill Lawless and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this