Libya: Journalists missing as international community pledges stronger reprisals
White House makes a significant change in policy and is now calling for a fly zone.
Ayinde O. Chase
New York, NY, United States
March 17, 2011 11:20 a.m. EST
Politics, Unrest, Conflicts And War, Alliances, Civil Unrest, Mystery, Revolutions, Human Interest, Diplomacy
Four New York Times journalists covering the ongoing crisis in Libya have gone missing. Editors from the paper say they last heard from the journalists who were reporting from Ajdabiya city on Wednesday.
Ajdabiya, a city of 170,000, is the last line of defense before Benghazi, the stronghold of the populist uprising.
It isn't known if the journalists were taken by Libyan government forces as some reports have claimed.
The missing journalists are Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Shadid; Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer; and two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario.
Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, said that representatives from the paper have spoken with officials of the Libyan government in Tripoli and have been told they are attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of the journalists.
“We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed.”
Libyan forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi are also steadily advancing to the rebel’s stronghold of Benghazi. Loyalists control the town now, however the town of Zuwaytinah, 93 miles away, is the site of intense fighting.
Rebel forces were successful in bringing down an aircraft that was targeting Benghazi with bombs.
Gaddafi's promise of a “decisive battle” on Thursday comes as Washington joined the growing list of countries calling for a U.N. Security Council-imposed no-fly zone. British officials said they welcomed the “significant change” made by the White House.
Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Wednesday night said the U.S. believed preparations should be made for military action. This stance would have the U.S. enacting a stronger posture than just the no-fly zone to protect Libyans under threat from aerial assault by forces loyal to Gaddafi.
"The situation on the ground has evolved and… a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians," Rice said.
As the fighting continues, thousands of guest workers from Egypt, Tunisia and other countries are fleeing Libya. What was once a massive demonstration is turning into a humanitarian emergency at the country’s borders.
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