Missing journalists held by Libyan army: driver

AFP reporter Dave Clark and photographer Roberto Schmidt, and Getty photographer Joe Raedle, had not been heard from since Friday evening. Driver Mohammed Hamed said that on Saturday morning he took the three journalists from Tobruk on the road to Ajdabiya, where Kadhafi 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. 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. Clark, 38, and Schmidt, 45, had informed AFP editors in an email on Friday of their plans to head 35 kilometres out of Tobruk.

They planned on meeting opponents of the regime of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and speaking with refugees fleeing the battles between rebels and the loyalists. Clark and Schmidt were accompanied by Raedle, 45, a photographer from the Getty Images agency. The journalists had not been heard of since sending the email Friday night.

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