US journalist Brent Renaud has been shot dead in Irpin, Ukraine, AFP reported, quoting medics and witnesses.
Renaud was a filmmaker, video-journalist and former contributor to The New York Times. Dr Danylo Shapovalov, a surgeon volunteering for the Ukrainian territorial defence, said Renaud was killed instantly.
The DuPont Award and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, with his brother Craig, also produced films for HBO, NBC, Discovery, PBS and Vice News as the Renaud Brothers.
Over the past decade, the brothers had covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the earthquake in Haiti, cartel violence in Mexico and youth refugees in Central America.
Two other journalists were injured and have been hospitalised, the Kyiv Independent reported.
Renaud, 51, was filming refugees crossing the Ukraine border when he was shot. His colleague Juan Arredondo was also injured, but survived. They had just passed a checkpoint in a car, when Russian soldiers opened fire. Their driver tried to turn around, but Renaud was shot in the neck and died instantly.
Russian forces ‘opened fire on a car with foreign journalists inside’ on 13 March, according to Kyiv region police chief Andrey Nebitov.
Authorities also shared a photograph of what appeared to be Brent Renaud’s press credentials issued by The New York Times.
“The invaders cynically kill even international media journalists who are trying to show the truth about the atrocities of Russian troops in Ukraine. Today, a 51-year-old correspondent of the world-famous New York Times media was shot dead in Irpen. Another journalist was wounded. Currently, they are trying to take the victim out of the combat zone,” Nebitov wrote on Facebook.
US Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday on CNN that he was still seeking to confirm the report of Renaud’s death, but said it would be yet another example of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutality.”
“If in fact an American journalist was killed, it is a shocking and horrifying event,” Sullivan said. “It is one more example of the brutality of Vladimir Putin and his forces as they’ve targeted schools and mosques and hospitals and journalists. And it is why we are working so hard to impose severe consequences on him and to try to help the Ukrainians with every form of military assistance we can muster.”
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years,” a New York Times spokesperson told Yahoo News.
“Though he had contributed to The Times in the past (most recently in 2015), he was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine. Early reports that he worked for Times circulated because he was wearing a Times press badge that had been issued for an assignment many years ago.”
New York Times’ deputy managing editor Cliff Levy further added, “Brent’s death is a terrible loss. Brave journalists like Brent take tremendous risks to bear witness and to tell the world about the devastation and suffering caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Renaud was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University from 2018 to 2019. Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation, tweeted on Sunday that Mr. Renaud “was gifted and kind, and his work was infused with humanity.” Lamenting his death, she said that “the world and journalism are lesser for it.”
A Ukrainian police officer told PBS news journalist Jane Ferguson to “tell America, tell the world, what they did to a journalist”.
The killing of the journalist comes amid ferocious fighting between the Russian and Ukrainian forces which is underway since past 17 days.
Earlier in the day, at least 35 people were killed and 134 injured after rocket attacks on a Ukrainian military base in Lviv. According to the Ukrainian officials, the several of the 50 rockets fired by the Russian forces were intercepted before they hit the targets.
The war between both the countries continue in cities of Ukraine, even as citizens rush to protect themselves in bomb shelters and bunkers.
Ukrainian journalist Yevhenii Skaum, a camera operator for the Ukrainian television channel LIVE, was killed when a TV transmission tower in Kviv was hit by shelling. Sky News chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay and his four colleagues were driving back to the Ukrainian capital when they were ambushed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had praised the Sky News crew’s bravery and said they were risking their lives so “the truth is told”. He said in a tweet: “Free press will not be intimidated or cowed by barbaric and indiscriminate acts of violence.”
Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who was working for Reuters, was shot dead by Taliban last year while reporting on the conflict in Afghanistan.
Pope Francis called the bombing of hospitals and civilian targets barbaric, calling for an end to what he called an ‘armed aggression’ by Moscow.
“In the name of God…stop this massacre,” the Pope said during his address after the prayers.
(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: Facebebook/Андрій Нєбитов, Getty Images)