A Reuters video journalist, Issam Abdallah, was killed and six other journalists injured in southern Lebanon on Friday when missiles fired from the direction of Israel struck them, news agency Reuters reported.
An Associated Press photographer at the scene saw the body of Reuters videographer Abdallah and the six, including from Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse, who were wounded – some of whom were rushed to hospitals in ambulances. Images from the scene showed a charred car.
The group of journalists were working near Alma al-Shaab, close to the Israel border, where the Israeli military and Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been trading fire in border clashes, Reuters reported.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and a Hezbollah lawmaker blamed the incident on Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces or IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Israel's UN envoy Gilad Erdan said in a briefing on Friday: "Obviously, we would never want to hit or kill or shoot any journalist that is doing its job. But you know, we are in a state of war, things might happen." He added that Israel will investigate the incident.
Reuters said in a statement that Abdallah had been killed while providing a live video signal for broadcasters. The camera was pointed at a hillside when a loud explosion shook the camera, filling the air with smoke, and screams were heard.
"We are deeply saddened to learn that our videographer, Issam Abdallah, has been killed," the news agency said in the statement.
"We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region, and supporting Issam's family and colleagues," it added.
Two other Reuters journalists, Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, were also wounded in the incident and released from a hospital after receiving medical care.
Nazeh said Reuters and the two other news organisations were filming missile fire coming from the direction of Israel when one struck Abdallah as he was sitting on a low stone wall near the rest of the group.
Seconds later, another missile hit the car being used by the group, setting it aflame.
While AP and Al Jazeera claimed that the shells were Israeli, Reuters said it could not establish whether the missiles had actually been fired by Israel.
AFP said two of its journalists were wounded but the agency did not release their names. Qatari-funded broadcaster Al Jazeera said two of its journalists, Elie Brakhya and reporter Carmen Joukhadar, were also wounded in the incident and had been clearly distinguishable as press. It blamed Israel for the incident, saying all those behind "this criminal act" should be held accountable.
"The broadcast vehicle was bombed and completely burned despite the presence of our team close to/side by side with the rest of the international media crews in an agreed-upon location," Al Jazeera said in a statement.
The village of Alma Al-Shaab has been the site of repeated clashes since war erupted further south between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian militia with close ties to Hezbollah.
Shortly before Abdallah was killed, he posted on social media a photograph of himself wearing a helmet and a flak jacket with the word "press" visible on it.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres expressed condolences to the family of the killed journalists. “So many journalists are paying with their lives to bring truth to everybody,” he said.
UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric earlier said that the world body hopes for an investigation into what happened. “Journalists need to be protected and allowed to do their work,” he said.
Later Friday, dozens of Lebanon-based journalists and rights activists gathered outside the National Museum in Beirut to grieve over Abdallah's death and the injury of the journalists.
The shelling occurred during an exchange of fire along the Lebanon-Israel border between Israeli troops and members of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group.
The Lebanon-Israel border has been witnessing sporadic acts of violence since Saturday's attack by the militant Palestinian group Hamas on southern Israel.