Mika Yamamoto, the veteran Japanese war correspondent killed in Syria on Monday, died when gunmen identified by rebels as Syrian soldiers opened fire on a group of journalists in Aleppo, the The AFP reported, as heartbreaking details about her death trickled out. Yamamoto, 45, was covering the conflict in for Japan Press, which The Associated Press described as "an independent TV news provider that specialises in conflict zone coverage." Yamamoto was with a group of journalists in Aleppo including her colleague, freelancer Kazutaka Sato, when a group in camouflage approached and opened fire from about 20 or 30 meters away, Sato told Japan's NTV, according to AFP. "I told her to run. It could have been less than 20 or 30 meters," he said. The other journalists scattered, but Yamamoto was hit.
An Associated Press reporter who had worked with Yamamoto identified her in video posted by activists, reported AP's Malcolm Foster. In one video, Free Syrian Army Capt. Ahmed Ghazali says regime forces opened fire on the journalists, who were traveling with the FSA. "Ghazali also said two other journalists were captured by Syrian government forces in Aleppo, including a reporter with Al-Hurra TV named 'Bashar.' " Al-Hurra, based in Springfield, Virginia, told AP it hadn't been able to reach correspondent Bashar Fahmi or his cameraman Cuneyt Unal.
Another video from a field hospital showed Sato speaking to Yamamoto's bloody body, Foster reported:
"Why? You are wearing a flak jacket," he said, speaking to her lifeless body. "That must hurt. Did you suffer? Were you shot in the head?" he asked, sobbing. Then he saw her arm with gunshot wounds, obviously suffered as she covered her head. "Oh, that hurt, didn't it?"
Yamamoto had been shot in the neck, her father Koji Yamamoto quoted Japanese government officials as saying
Yamamoto, who covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had covered combat for more than 15 years, AFP reported. "She received the special prize of the Vaughn-Uyeda Memorial Prize for contributions made by Japanese journalists in the field of international affairs in fiscal 2003." Her body has been taken to Turkey.