French journalist Camille Lepage, 26, was confirmed dead by the French office of the presidency Tuesday, marking the first death of a Western reporter in war-torn Central African Republic.
"She was probably ambushed," President Francois Hollande told reporters during a visit to Georgia, Reuters reported
. "We must do everything to find out why she was in this region, who captured her, how she died, and make sure that her murderers do not go unpunished."
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Agence France-Presse reported via MSN
that Lepage, a freelance photojournalist, was found by French soldiers sent to aid in the conflict in December. They found her when they stopped a vehicle driven by "anti-balaka" militia fighters.
Lepage herself said in a social media post May 6 that she was traveling with the Christian fighters to Amada Gaza, near the Cameroon border.
It remains unclear how she died, however a local aid worker said that Tuesday morning the Christians were attacked by armed Fulani herdsman.
The Associated Press reported that the recent conflict in the Central African Republic began
when mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March of last year. They were replaced in January by an interim government, but splinter Seleka groups have gone on rampages, sacking and looting small towns. In response, the Christians formed militias.
Lepage posted some of her work to social media sites like Instagram, and her work has appeared in many publications around the world, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as many European publications like Reuters, BBC, Le Monde, and Liberation.
"I want the viewers to feel what the people are going through. I'd like them to empathize with them as human beings, rather than seeing them as another bunch of Africans suffering from war somewhere in this dark continent," Lepage said in an interview with a photography blog recently. "I wish they think: 'Why on Earth are those people in living hell; why don't we know about it and why is no one doing anything?'"
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