Kidnapped reporters freed in Libya

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Kidnapped reporters freed in Libya

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Four Italian journalists abducted in Libya by suspected loyalists of fugitive Muammar Gaddafi have been freed unharmed.

The four, seized in the chaos of fighting on Wednesday, arrived in a central Tripoli hotel after being rescued from an apartment. They said their driver had been shot dead in front of them during their capture.

“They found us at the Bab al-Aziziya compound. We were at the Gaddafi compound,” one of the journalists, Elisabetta Rosaspina, said.

Two of the journalists work for Corriere della Sera, while the others are reporters for La Stampa and Avvenire newspapers.

They were rescued by two Libyans who broke into the Tripoli apartment, Corriere said on its website.

Earlier on Wednesday 35 journalists were freed from the Hotel Rixos in Tripoli after being confined against their will for five days by soldiers still loyal to Gaddafi. After negotiations, the reporters were allowed to leave in a number of vehicles supplied by the International Red Cross. Two foreign politicians were also released.

The journalists had previously been permitted to leave the hotel to report but only if accompanied by government minders who, they say, accused them of being spies and pressurized interviewees into giving answers favourable to the regime.

Conditions in the hotel had been deteriorating with food and water supplies running low, and frequent power cuts.