In a harrowing incident near a bridge in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Russian snipers launched a brutal attack on two journalists, resulting in the death of a local fixer and injuries sustained by a correspondent from La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper.
The fixer, identified as Bogdan Bitik, tragically lost his life during the assault, while the correspondent, Corrado Zunino, was left injured. Zunino, who was wearing a “press”-labeled bulletproof vest, managed to escape the attackers and was subsequently rushed to a Kherson hospital, where he is presently receiving medical treatment.
Recovering the body of the slain fixer, Bitik, has proven to be a challenging task due to the lingering threat posed by snipers in the vicinity. The dangerous situation has made it exceedingly difficult for retrieval efforts to take place.
The Italian minister of foreign affairs has taken swift action to ensure Zunino’s safe return to Italy. Officials are actively involved in facilitating his repatriation, focusing on Zunino’s medical care and protection during the process.
This tragedy marks another grim milestone in the escalating violence faced by journalists covering the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. According to the International Federation of Journalists, since the invasion began, at least 12 journalists and media employees have lost their lives, with an additional 18 journalists sustaining injuries in the region.
Among the casualties are foreign journalists who sought to report on the unfolding events in Ukraine. A French journalist and an American filmmaker and journalist were among those who tragically lost their lives while reporting from the conflict zone. However, the majority of the victims have been brave Ukrainian journalists, working tirelessly to bring the truth to the world despite the grave risks they face daily.
The attack on Zunino and the loss of Bitik further highlight the perilous conditions in which journalists are operating in Ukraine. It underscores the urgent need for greater measures to protect media personnel and uphold press freedom amidst the ongoing crisis.