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Report: Journalists Are Freed From Libyan Hotel

Foreign journalists in protective gear climb the stairs at the Rixos hotel where they were confined, as rebel forces overran Gadhafi's Bab al-Azizya headquarters in Tripoli.
Imed Lamloum
/
AFP/Getty Images
Foreign journalists in protective gear climb the stairs at the Rixos hotel where they were confined, as rebel forces overran Gadhafi's Bab al-Azizya headquarters in Tripoli.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports on Twitter that journalists have been allowed to leave the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, where many foreign journalists have stayed throughout the six-month-old conflict.

For the past few days, journalists have been held in the hotel at gunpoint. As we've reported, the hotel is where Saif al-Islam Gadhafi made his surprise appearance Monday night and is a place very close to Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound.

That means the journalists have experienced heavy fighting outside and on at least a couple of occasions, there have been reports of snipers taking shots at targets inside the hotel.

As the Telegraph's Andy Bloxham reports, during the final hours, food and water were running out and gunmen were "roaming the corridors." The BBC's Matthew Price said the situation was "desperate" and getting pretty "miserable."

An AP reporter made his way to the hotel earlier, and "found the journalists wearing helmets and flak jackets, clustered on the second floor, where a guard said they weren't permitted to leave."

But it appears, it's all over.

the dramatic timeline of the final hour of the ordeal:

330p local time: Negotiating with guards for our release. They said we can leave, but in small groups.

We are expecting the ICRC and Chinese embassy to send cars to pick us up. Fingers crossed. ,

4:00p local time: Pandemonium in lobby of hotel, all going back upstairs. Another anti- climax?

410p local time: After a heart to heart with Arab speaking journos, two Gadhafi guards disarmed.

415p local time: This feels like the end game in this dramatic and unpleasant situation.

Running across upper floors of hotel to find a flag with TV written on it. They want to put it on the car.

Getting flags with "TV" on them ready for when we are released. Which we hope is soon.

BBC cars arrives at , BBC crew is leaving the hotel.

436pm local time: BBC has left the hotel

437pm local time: ICRC cars have arrived at the hotel.

438pm local time: Now pulling out of hotel after 6 days of a complete nightmare. Still dodgy situation

439pm local time: Crammed with other journos in the car. Reuters, other cameramen, FOX, and AP

We have been holed up together for what seems like an eternity. We could finally get out freedom!!!

I can see the NTC rebels. We are nearly there!

crisis ends. All journalists are out!

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.