A French photojournalist has been killed in the Central African Republic, the presidential palace announced on Tuesday evening.
The body of Camille Lepage, 26, from Angers, was discovered by French troops patrolling in the Bouar region in the west of the country in a vehicle driven by militia from the anti-balaka (anti-machete) group.
A week ago, in her last tweet on 6 May, Lepage had written that she was: “Travelling with the anti-balaka to Amada Gaza, about 120km from Berberati.
“We left at 3.30am to avoid the Misca [International Support Mission to the Central African Republic] checkpoints and it took us eight hours by motorbike as there is no proper roads to reach the village. In the region of Amada Gaza, 150 people were killed by the Seleka [an alliance of rebel militia factions] between March and now.
“Another attack took place on Sunday killing 6 people, the anti-balaka Colonel Rock decides to send his elements there to patrol around and take people who fled the bush back to their homes safely.”
On Tuesday, the Elysée said the French president, François Hollande, had ordered “the immediate despatch of a French team and police from the African force deployed in the CAR to the scene.
“All necessary means will be deployed to shine light on the circumstances of this assassination and find the killers of our compatriot,” it said in a statement.
The use of the word assassinat in French appears to suggest that Paris has information that the young woman was targeted deliberately and in cold blood.
Lepage had moved to Juba in South Sudan in July 2012, after completing a journalism degree at Solent University in Southampton, but had spent the last few months working in the CAR.