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Body of slain French journalist returned home

AFP/The Local · 16 May 2014, 14:46

Published: 16 May 2014 14:46 GMT+02:00

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The 26-year-old was slain during a firefight between rival militia in the restive country, where she had been covering sectarian bloodletting and its impact on civilians.

An airport source said Lepage's body had been taken to Paris's main morgue for autopsy. French authorities on Wednesday opened a judicial investigation into her death.

Her death provoked a wave of emotion in France and in its former colony.

Lepage's body was recovered by French peacekeeping troops on Tuesday.

She had been on an assignment with members of the "anti-balaka" Christian militia earlier in the week when they were ambushed by fighters linked to rival militia groups and at least 10 fighters died in the ensuing battle.

A French military source said Lepage was with the militia as part of her efforts to report on the conflict when they were attacked on Monday.

"She was killed by gunfire and her body was recovered by the anti-balaka along with those of their comrades," said the source, who requested anonymity, adding that an inquiry was under way into the exact circumstances of her death.

Lepage worked as a photographer for Hans Lucas, a studio based in Paris, according to its website. Her death comes six months after two French journalists for RFI radio were killed in Mali.

The UN Security Council has condemned the killing of a French journalist in the Central African Republic, and stated those responsible "shall be held accountable".

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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