Journalists freed from Tripoli hotel

International journalists were freed from the Rixos Hotel today after being held for five days by armed men loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

The dozens of journalists were taken in Red Cross cars and vans to another Tripoli hotel, where they hugged friends and colleagues, many crying.



The International Committee of the Red Cross was talking to loyalist forces about the journalists' safety on Wednesday when they were suddenly informed that Gaddafi's men were ready to release them.



"We were able to gather everyone in four cars, no problem," said George Comninos, the Red Cross' head of delegation in Tripoli. "Of course, it was still a tense situation."



The journalists had been held at gunpoint by two nervous Kalashnikov-wielding guards who refused to give up their posts despite rebel victories elsewhere in the city.



Earlier in the day, an Associated Press reporter who entered the hotel found the journalists wearing helmets and flak jackets, clustered on the second floor, where a guard said they weren't permitted to leave.



Other journalists showed up at the gate, including a group in a car decorated with a rebel flag, and were forced out of the car and into the hotel, where they joined the dozens who had been there for days.



Those who had been held captive inside the hotel described running battles in the area, and intermittent electricity.



They were sleeping huddled on the floor in one wing of the hotel to protect each other for fear of people being attacked in their rooms, their belongings packed in case of need for a sudden departure.



Several said the first days of their captivity featured some of the most frightening moments.



""We were in the dining room making a big pot of tea when a sniper put two rounds through the window," said Fox News videojournalist Paul Roubicek.



He said that at other times the captives couldn't go outside because snipers were shooting at them and at their satellite equipment on the roof.



CNN journalist Jomana Karadsheh said the captives were held by 15 armed men until yesterday, when the numbers dwindled to two. Some of the journalists' captors held impromptu press conferences describing their plans for a massive final battle around the Rixos, she said.



"Once I got into the car I couldn't stop crying," she said.



Save for the two guards, all the hotel employees had fled and the journalists were cooking for themselves. One guard expressed surprise when told most of the city was in rebel hands. Parked in front of the hotel was the bus once used by government minders to ferry journalists around the city — on its windshield was a huge poster of Gadhafi — one of the only ones apparently left in the city.





PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Coordinator / Office Support Administrator

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This London Bridge based estate...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Advisor - Print

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based just north of York, this ...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map