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French photojournalist, 26, killed while covering conflict in Central African Republic

A 26-year-old French photojournalist who had spent months documenting the conflict in Central African Republic has been killed, the French presidency said Tuesday.

Camille Lepage, a freelance photographer whose work was published in major French and American newspapers, died in a village near the town of Bouar, authorities said.

"All means necessary will be used to shed light on to the circumstances of this murder and to find her killers," the French presidency said in the statement.

Lepage 's death comes as the security situation worsens for reporters and photographers working in the volatile country; two Central African journalists already have been killed this month in the capital.

Lepage's body was found by French peacekeepers inside a vehicle that had been driven by Christian militia fighters, the statement said. In her last tweet about a week ago, Lepage said she was embedding with the fighters known as the anti-Balaka who were battling the remnants of a Muslim rebellion known as the Seleka.

"We left at 3:30 a.m. to avoid the Misca (African peacekeeping) checkpoints and it took us 8 hours by motorbike as there is no proper roads to reach the village," she tweeted.

"In the region of Amada Gaza, 150 people were killed by the Seleka 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 to the bush back to their homes."

A native of Angers, France, Lepage also had worked extensively in Juba, South Sudan before moving to Central African Republic. In an interview with a photography blog, PetaPixel, she said she was drawn to covering forgotten conflicts.

"I want the viewers to feel what the people are going through, I'd like them to empathize with them as human beings, rather than seeing them as another bunch of Africans suffering from war somewhere in this dark continent," she said. "I wish they think: 'Why on Earth are those people in living hell; why don't we know about it and why is no one doing anything?' I would like the viewers to be ashamed of their government for knowing about it without doing anything to make it end."

Lepage had recently traveled to New York for a prestigious portfolio review and workshop at the New York Times. Her work had appeared in the newspaper, as well as in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. She also had sold images to French newspapers including Le Monde and Liberation.

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Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.

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Online:

http://camille-lepage.photoshelter.com/#!/portfolio/G0000uiAZaBMItVg