British photojournalist and his interpreter kidnapped

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The Independent Online

A British photojournalist and his interpreter have been kidnapped in Basra, it was disclosed last night.

The journalist was reportedly near the Qasral-Sultan hotel in the southern Iraqi city on Sunday, when a group of armed men forced him and his interpreter inside a car and took them to an unknown location, according to police sources in the city.

The veteran freelance, who has covered conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and worked regularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, was said to be on assignment for the American television network CBS as well as other outlets.

Last night, a spokesman confirmed: "Two journalists working for CBS News in Basra are missing. All efforts are under way to find them and until we learn more details, CBS News requests that others do not speculate on the identities of those involved. CBS News has been in touch with the families and asks that their privacy be respected."

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in Basra confirmed they were aware of the kidnap and were offering assistance.

"Gunmen in two cars kidnapped the English journalist," Basra police told the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency yesterday. No one, they added, had claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Last night the journalist's wife said his family were hoping he would be released soon. "We are sure he will be out as soon as he can and everything will be fine," she said.

The journalist was one of the few freelance photographers inside Baghdad to capture its fall in March 2003. His work has been featured extensively in US publications such as Time and The New York Times, as well as British publications including The Sunday Telegraph and Financial Times.

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