LONDON (AFP) -An Irish journalist working for ”The Guardian” has been kidnapped by armed men in Iraq.
"Rory Carroll was… kidnapped by gunmen in Baghdad. Carroll, 33, an experienced foreign correspondent, had been conducting an interview in the city with a victim of Saddam Hussein”s regime. He had been preparing an article for today”s (Thursday”s) paper on the opening of the former dictator”s trial yesterday," the paper said in its online edition.
"Carroll, who was accompanied by two drivers and a translator, was confronted by the gunmen as he left the house where he had been carrying out the interview," the paper said Thursday.
"He and one of the drivers were bundled into cars. The driver was released about 20 minutes later," it added.
Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian”s editor, said on the website (www.guardian.co.uk): "We”re deeply concerned at Rory”s disappearance. He is in Iraq as a professional journalist – and he”s a very good, straight journalist whose only concern is to report fairly and truthfully about the country.
"We urge those holding him to release him swiftly – for the sake of his family and for the sake of anyone who believes the world needs to be kept fully informed about events in Iraq today."
Carroll spoke to Irish public radio RTE about Saddam Hussein”s trial hours before he went missing.
His father Joe Carroll, a retired journalist, told BBC radio that his son had played down fears for his safety.
"He knew we were worried but he used to reassure us and say that it was not as dangerous as people outside think," he said.
"Three people were with him and one of them did get a bit roughed up but he was the only one kidnapped. We haven”t heard anything from him."
"The Guardian and the British Embassy are doing their work. They”ve got a lot of people on the ground to work on this," added Carroll senior.
He added that his son only intended to stay in Iraq for a year.
A Irish foreign ministry spokesman said Dublin”s ambassadors in Cairo and Tehran and its honorary consul in Jordan were investigating reports of Carroll”s abduction.
In London, the British Foreign Office said: "We are aware of reports that a journalist has been abducted. We are trying to find out more information… We would ask those involved to release him unharmed."
The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists called for Carroll”s release and appealed to journalists” groups in Iraq to assist in the hunt for the missing correspondent.
"Iraqi reporters and foreign correspondents have suffered heavily in this conflict," its general secretary Aidan White said, calling for a "maximum of professional solidarity".
The International News Safety Institute in London said that Carroll is confirmed kidnapped, he will have been "the 37th news media staffer seized by armed men in Iraq", including Iraqis, five French and four Americans.
The incident comes exactly a year after Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan, 59, who had British and Iraqi citizenship, was taken hostage and subsequently executed.
Iraqi insurgents have kidnapped more than 220 foreigners and killed nearly 40 since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Carroll is one of The Guardian”s most experienced foreign correspondents and had been in Iraq for nine months.
He graduated from Dublin”s Trinity College and started his career as a reporter for the Irish News in Belfast. At The Guardian he was Rome correspondent from 1999, then South Africa correspondent in 2002.