As one group of journalists is released, another four are abducted

Reuters reports:

Four Italian journalists were abducted by gunmen near Zawiyah in western Libya as they traveled toward Tripoli on Wednesday, Italian officials said.

The four, who worked for Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera, La Stampa and Avvenire, are being held in an apartment in Tripoli, said Guido de Sanctis, the Italian consul in Benghazi, who was able to speak to one of the journalists by phone.

“They are fine, even if everything happened in a very difficult atmosphere,” de Sanctis told Reuters.

“They have been allowed to call Italy and they have been allowed to get calls from us. They were given food to eat when the Ramadan fast was broken.”

The four were seized near Zawiyah, on the coastal highway 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli by armed men who killed their driver, de Sanctis said. The journalists were then handed to others, presumably Muammar Gaddafi loyalists, he said.

The journalists believe the apartment they are being held in Tripoli is close to the Rixos hotel where foreign journalists who were trapped for five days left unharmed earlier on Wednesday, de Sanctis said.

The journalist at Avvenire, the Italian bishops’ newspaper, was also allowed to call the newspaper and said they were well, Italian media said.

Italy’s government said it was closely monitoring the situation.

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