4 Italian Journalists Kidnapped in Libya

Posted August 24th, 2011 at 5:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Italy says four Italian journalists have been kidnapped and their driver killed in Libya by armed men described as loyalists to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday the kidnapping occurred on a highway between the western town of Zawiya and the capital, Tripoli.

The ministry said the newspaper journalists included two from Milan daily Corriere della Sera, one from Turin's La Stampa and one from the Avvenire Catholic publication.

The abduction took place just hours after some 35 foreign journalists held by Gadhafi forces were freed after being detained for about four days inside the Rixos hotel in Tripoli.

The circumstances of their release were not immediately clear. They were, however, freed shortly after representatives of the International Red Cross arrived at the hotel, which has been under the control of pro-Gadhafi forces.

The journalists said they were met outside the hotel by the representatives, who transported them to another location.

Before they were freed, some journalists had hung banners outside windows, with the words “TV” and “Do Not Shoot” written on them. They said snipers were near the hotel.

CNN correspondent Matthew Chance was among the journalists who were detained under what he described as “terrible, horrible” conditions. He told CNN the situation changed when the pro-Gadhafi fighters who controlled the hotel realized the Libyan leader's “regime was over.”