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AFP confirms that three foreign journalists were arrested near Ajdabiya

This combo made of undated photos shows Agence France-Presse photographer Roberto Schmidt, journalist Dave Clark and Getty photographer Joe Raedle. Three western journalists who went missing in eastern Libya last week, including two from Agence France-Presse, were arrested by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi, their driver said.

Two Agence France-Presse journalists and a US photographer, according to information newly obtained by AFP, were arrested by pro-Gaddafi forces near Ajdabiya on March 19. AFP had not heard from its two reporters since the evening of March 18. The two AFP journalists are Dave Clark, 38, who is British, and Roberto Schmidt, 45, who has German and Colombian dual nationality. The US photographer who was travelling with them is Joe Raedle, 45, of Getty Images.

In a press release Tuesday, AFP said a Libyan driver, Mohamed Hamed, told the news agency that on Saturday morning he took the three journalists from Tobruk on the road to Ajdabiya, where Gaddafi loyalists have been fighting eastern rebels. “ A few dozen kilometres from Ajdabiya, they encountered a convoy of military jeeps and transport vehicles. They turned around, but were intercepted by the soldiers who caught up with them and forcibly arrested them, the driver said.”

The press release added: “Four soldiers ordered the journalists out of their vehicle at gunpoint. Clark, an experienced foreign correspondent, identified themselves in Arabic as journalists, the driver said. They were then ordered to kneel on the side of the road with their hands on their heads. Other civilians and ambulances arrived on the scene and were controlled by soldiers who arrived in large number, Hamed said. The soldiers then set fire to several vehicles, including that used by the journalists, who were put into a military vehicle and driven away.”

The confirmation of their arrest brings the number of journalists currently detained in Libya to seven. Al-Jazeera reported on March 19 that four of its journalists were being held by pro-Gaddafi forces. The four – Mauritanian reporter Ahmed Vall Ould el-Dine, Tunisian reporter Lotfi Messaoudi, Norwegian photographer Ammar Al-Hamdane and British photographer Kamel Ataloua – were arrested near the western town of Zawiya.

Date posted: March 22, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 60