11/01/2012 16:11 GMT | Updated 11/01/2012 16:20 GMT

Syrian Crisis: French Journalist Gilles Jacquier Killed In Homs As Arab League Monitor Resigns In Protest

A French TV reporter has been killed in the Syrian town of Homs as violence continues amid widespread anti-government protests.

Gilles Jacquier, who is 43 and worked for France 2, was with a group of around 15 foreign journalists escorted by soldiers when they were attacked.

According to reports, the group was in a relatively peaceful and pro-government part of the city when a grenade fell close by and the journalists were forced to flee into a building.

More grenades hit the building, and Jacquier was later found dead.

One other journalist was injured in the attack, reports have said.

Other reports have said that at least eight people were killed in the incident.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has demanded an explanation.

"We vigorously condemn this odious act," he said in a statement.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “I condemn the incident in Homs today which caused the death of at least eight civilians.

"These deaths highlight once again the terrible price being paid by the people of Homs, as well as the courage of journalists who take great personal risks to bring to light what is happening to the people of Syria."

He added: “We call again on President Assad to step down and heed the will of the Syrian people."

Activists and opposition groups said that up to 24 people died across Syria on Wednesday as the crackdown against protesters continued.

Meanwhile the Arab League mission sent to monitor the country and ensure it halts the violence against civilians has delayed sending more observers after an attack on one of its teams.

At least one former member of the mission has resigned in protest after calling the Arab League mission a "farce".

Anwar Malek told al-Jazeera that Syria was in the grip of a humanitarian disaster and said the government had fabricated evidence for the benefit of the monitors.

Eleven monitors were hurt in the attack at the city of Latakia, Reuters news agency said.

Elsewhere, President Bashar al-Assad gave a second speech in two days to a cheering crowd in Umayyad Square in Damascus, saying that the "homeland was reeling under the brunt of conspiracy".

"Syrians will undoubtedly triumph over the conspiracy, which is nearing its end," Assad told the crowd, a day after assuring Syrians in a televised speech that "terrorists" would be met with an "iron fist".

The UN says that at least 5,000 people have been killed in Syria since the start of anti-government protests in March last year.