A French journalist has been murdered in Central African Republic, President Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement Tuesday, the first Western reporter to be killed in the country since France sent troops there in December.

Camille Lepage, 26, a freelance photojournalist, had been based in South Sudan since July 2012. French troops found her body in a car they had stopped, the presidency said in a statement.

The car was being driven by members of the mainly Christian “anti-balaka” militia in the western Bouar region.

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The former French colony descended into chaos after the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March last year. Their abuses against the majority Christian population set off a wave of revenge attacks, killing thousands.

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Lepage said on social media on May 6 that she was traveling with anti-balaka fighters to Amada Gaza in western Central African Republic near the border with Cameroon.

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Camille Lepage

Camille Lepage

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