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AFP journalist Arman Soldin killed by rocket fire in Ukraine

Journalists among the casualties in Ukraine
Challenges in keeping journalists in Ukraine safe after U.S. filmmaker killed by Russian forces 05:17

AFP's Ukraine video coordinator Arman Soldin was killed on Tuesday by rocket fire near Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine, AFP journalists who witnessed the incident said.

The attack happened at around 4:30 pm on the outskirts of the town close to Bakhmut, the epicenter of the fighting in eastern Ukraine for several months.

The AFP team came under fire with Grad rockets while they were with a group of Ukrainian soldiers.

Soldin, 32, was killed when a rocket struck close to where he was lying. The rest of the team was uninjured.

"The whole agency is devastated by the loss of Arman," AFP chairman Fabrice Fries said. "His death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers faced by journalists every day covering the conflict in Ukraine."

Born in Sarajevo, Soldin was a French national. 

He began working for AFP as an intern in its Rome bureau in 2015 and was later hired in London. 

He was part of the first AFP team to be sent to Ukraine following the start of Russia's invasion on February 24, 2022, arriving on the following day.

Soldin had been living in Ukraine since September, leading the team's coverage and travelling regularly to the front lines in the east and south.

Soldin's death means that at least 11 journalists or fixers and drivers for media teams have been killed covering the war in Ukraine, according to the media advocacy groups Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).

"Arman's brilliant work encapsulated everything that has made us so proud of AFP's journalism in Ukraine," the agency's Global News Director Phil Chetwynd said in a statement. "Arman's death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers of covering this war. Our thoughts tonight are with his family and friends, and with all our people on the ground in Ukraine."

AFP's Europe Director Christine Buhagiar remembered Soldin as "enthusiastic, energetic and brave".

"He was a real on-the-ground reporter, always ready to work even in the most difficult places," she said. "He was totally devoted to his craft."

Just a day before his death, Soldin was chronicling the horrors of the war, posting video on social media of doctors operating on a wounded soldier's heart. 

Soldin, whose Twitter profile picture features a cat perched on his back, also apparently had a soft spot for animals. Last week, an animal rescue group tweeted a video of Soldin and his team rescuing an injured hedgehog from a trench in Ukraine.

"The team found it barely alive, gave it some water and took it to a safe place," Uanimals.ENG tweeted. "They fed the animal and let it recover for a couple of days before releasing it into the wild."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Tuesday, "Our hearts go out to the family of journalist Arman Soldin, who lost his life today reporting from the front lines of the war in Ukraine, and to Arman's colleagues at the AFP. Journalism is fundamental to a free society. The world is indebted to Arman and to the 10 other reporters and media workers who have lost their lives while shining a light on the horrors of Russia's invasion."

AFP photojournalist Daniel Leal reacted to the news of his colleague's death with a simple message on Twitter: "Forever remembered. Forever loved. Arman Soldin."

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