AFP, BBC, Times win top war correspondents prizes

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AFP photographer Mohammed al-Shaikh covering a political demonstration in Sanabis, west of Manama, on February 16, 2013

AFP photographer Mohammed al-Shaikh covering a political demonstration in Sanabis, west of Manama, on February 16, 2013 (AFP Photo/)

Bayeux (France) (AFP) - AFP photographer Mohammed Al-Shaikh and the BBC's Lyse Doucet were among the winners at the annual Bayeux-Calvados awards for war correspondents announced on Saturday in Bayeux, northwestern France.

Three of the seven prizes went to coverage of the conflict in Syria, where a devastating civil war has raged for the past three and a half years.

The international jury, chaired by US veteran foreign correspondent Jon Randal, awarded the first prize in the photo category to AFP's Al-Shaikh for a series of striking images covering violent demonstrations in Bahrain, which began in 2011.

In the written press category, The Times' Anthony Loyd -- who was beaten and shot at by rebels in Syria -- won top honours for his work highlighting the dangers of reporting from the country.

Doucet, a veteran BBC News correspondent, took the television category for her reports from Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, which became a symbol of suffering in Syria.

The long-format television award went to Marcel Mettelsiefen for a report out of Syria for Arte.

In the radio category, jurors rewarded Olivier Poujade from France Inter for his coverage of the French military intervention in the strife-torn Central African Republic.

Alexey Furman took the young reporter's prize for his photographs of the crisis in Ukraine.

A report out of Chechnya entitled "Grozny: nine cities", was picked as the best online journalism piece. The win was shared by Gerald Holubowicz, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, Oksana Yushko, Anna Shpakova, Mediapart and Polka Magainze Chewbahat Storytelling Lab.

AFP's Manama-born Al-Shaikh, an engineering graduate, said it was "a big honour" to win the photo prize for the coverage of the unrest in his home country.

"There was huge interest for pictures showing the protests in Bahrain, especially in the two years" that followed the first demonstration, he told AFP.

"But life in Bahrain does not stop there. Unfortunately the protest movement eclipsed everything else: people's everyday lives, society at large. I think there is now room to work on new topics."

AFP chairman Emmanuel Hoog praised the photographer's dedication.

"This prestigious award recognizes the long-term work of a photographer who, with great talent and professionalism, continues to be the witness of events which have shaken the Arab world since 2011," he said.

Created in 1994, the Bayeux-Calvados awards recognise reporting on conflicts and their impact on civilians as well as stories covering the defence of freedom and democracy.

Earlier this week, on the sidelines of the 21st edition of the awards, hundreds turned out for the unveiling of a memorial in honour of the 113 journalists killed over the past year.

Among those at the ceremony were the parents of US reporter James Foley, who was beheaded by Islamic State militants in August.