Wounded French reporter at risk of bleeding to death - activists

BEIRUT Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:47am EST

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - A French journalist wounded in Syria is at risk of bleeding to death without urgent medical care, activists said on Wednesday, hours after she and five other journalists were hit by an army bombardment of a rebel stronghold.

Edith Bouvier, a freelance journalist who was smuggled into Syria to report for the French paper Le Figaro, suffered severe injuries to her hip and thigh.

Activists said Bouvier, 31, was being treated at a poorly- equipped field hospital in Homs' besieged district of Baba Amro, which has been under army shelling for almost three weeks as security forces step up their crackdown on the 11-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

"There is a high risk she will bleed to death without urgent medical attention," said a member of the global advocacy group Avaaz, which has been working with journalists and activists inside Syria.

"We are desperately trying to get her out, doing all we can in extremely perilous circumstances."

Bouvier was staying in a house with five other journalists in Baba Amro, two of whom were killed in the Wednesday morning assault. American journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik died when 11 rockets hit the building.

Video footage posted by activists showed a dazed Bouvier lying under a blanket, one leg tightly bandaged as doctors said she was in urgent need of blood.

The video showed another wounded journalist, identified as American freelancer Paul Conroy, and said the artery of his thigh was badly cut.

Activists said there were many other wounded Syrians in similarly dire conditions. The video of the journalists showed one unidentified woman sitting near Bouvier, covered in blood.

"There are many civilians in a similar state. This is just a basic field hospital and we just don't have the tools to treat them," said activist Mahmoud, who said he helped bring the journalists to the makeshift clinic.

France has demanded that Syria offer it immediate access to the wounded journalists.

"I ask the Syrian government to stop immediately the attacks and respect its humanitarian obligations," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement. "(We) have asked our embassy in Damascus to demand from Syrian authorities a securitized passage with medical help to be given to victims with the support of the International Red Cross."

(Reporting by Erika Solomon)

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