Conflict & Justice

Gaddafi's guards release journalists held at Rixos hotel (VIDEO)


Foreign journalists in protective gear are seen climbing the stairs at the Rixos hotel where they were confined, as rebel forces overran Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's fortified Bab al-Azizya headquarters in the capital Tripoli following heavy fighting on August 23, 2011. The journalists were freed from the Rixos hotel on August 24, 2011, after being held for nearly six days.



Journalists held at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli by armed guards loyal to Muammar al-Gaddafi were freed unharmed Wednesday.

The journalists and other captives, including a former U.S. congressman and member of India's parliament, were held for five days at the five-star Rixos hotel, controlled by pro-Gaddafi forces, while fighting raged on the streets of Libya's capital.

All were freed Wednesday after negotiating their release with the guards in a "heart to heart" discussion. 

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The group of more than 30 foreign journalists included staff from the BBC, CNN, Fox News, Reuters and other news organizations. 

Conditions had deteriorated at the Rixos hotel, with food and clean water running low, the Guardian reports.

"It's a desperate situation," the BBC's Matthew Price, who was trapped in the hotel, told a Radio 4 program earlier Wednesday. "The situation deteriorated massively overnight when it became clear we were unable to leave the hotel of our own free will … Gunmen were roaming around the corridors … Snipers were on the roof."

Price said that an ITV cameraman who tried to leave the Rixos hotel compound "had an AK47 pulled on him."

The area around the hotel, which is near Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound, saw heavy fighting, a rebel spokesman told Reuters.

"The smell of gunpowder hangs in the thick heat, along with sweat and a little fear. When the shooting is most intense, we take refuge in hotel's basement conference rooms," Dario Lopez-Mills of the Associated Press wrote in a dispatch filed Tuesday.

"Two satellite telephones set up on a balcony were destroyed by gunfire, so we've stopped transmitting our material. We wait and worry the gunmen could turn hostile at any moment," Lopez-Mills wrote.

"We don't know when it's going to end, and we see little of what happens."

The Rixos hotel in Tripoli is a luxury hotel that was previously used by the Libyan government for its regular news briefings, the Telegraph reports. 

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