Details and video footage have emerged two days after Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto was killed in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo in a shootout between rebels and regime forces.
A video was posted on the Internet, sent to the Daily Telegraph by the Japan Press, the company she worked for. It shows Yamamoto filming and following Syrian rebels as sounds of gunfire go off in the distance.
She was accompanied by Kazutaka Sato, her fellow reporter and partner. Another video shows Sato later speaking to the camera, saying of Yamamoto, “She’s a woman, so maybe they recognized she’s a woman, but they shot [her], killing [her].”
“So, I am very sad. I don’t have any word for the Syrian government, Syrian army,” he said, adding, “I don’t have any [opinion] about the Syrian army because we are journalists.”
Yamamoto was an award-winning journalist who mainly covered conflict zones, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Uganda.
“She was a veteran. She could cover anything,” freelance journalist Takeharu Watai told the Japan Times. “She was careful in doing her coverage. I can’t believe [she has died].”
Jiro Ishimaru with the Asia Press group said, “She wasn’t a reckless type. [Her death] could mean that the Syrian clash was so fierce that even she could not have avoided the accident.”
Her father, Koji, who is a retired journalist, said that she was “a far better journalist than I was,” according to the Japan Times. “She is not a war journalist, but rather a human journalist,” he said, adding that she wanted to “come home alive to tell the real stories of women and children in battlefields.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists said that the initial footage of Yamamoto’s body in a YouTube video suggested that she was with the rebel Free Syrian Army that is battling the Syrian army.
Yamamoto died Monday, the YouTube video showing her body being transported out of Syria. The video was uploaded by supporters or members of the Free Syrian Army.
Since the conflict erupted 18 months ago, Syria has clamped down hard on free press.
In the video, a Free Syrian Army commander said its forces would accompany journalists into the country.“We welcome any journalist who wants to enter Syria,” rebel Capt. Ahmed Ghazali was quoted by The Associated Press as saying. “We will secure their entry, but we are not responsible for the brutality of Assad’s forces against the media.”