BREAKING: Journalists in Rixos Hotel Released (UPDATED)
CNN has just reported that all 35 journalists and other foreign nationals who had been held hostage by Qaddafi troops at the Rixos hotel have now been released.
All “in good condition.”
Pro-Qaddafi forces guarding them did not put any resistance. Journalists “negotiated” with them. Guards said “we are not going to stop you from leaving”
CNN’s Matthew Chance tweeted Wednesday that all journalists had been freed: “Rixos crisis ends. All journalists are out!” Chance had been updating the world on the intense situation in the hotel through his Twitter account.
Chance said the journalists negotiated for their release with the armed guards, who allowed them to leave in small groups if they arranged their own transportation. They left in cars provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Chance tweeted.
There were serious concerns for the safety of the journalists, who were running out of food and water. The hotel, in close proximity to ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s compound, had been intermittently without electricity.
“Very dark, very quiet at the #Rixos some gunshots cracking outside. We raided the hotel larder and got tons of cheese!” Chance tweeted Monday.
The CNN correspondent said the guards, who were apparently unaware that Tripoli was mostly under rebel control, accused the reporters of being NATO spies. He told CNN that each time someone attempted to leave the hotel gunshots rang out.
• 1615: Matthew Price BBC News, Tripoli
with more on leaving the Rixos: “We drove out of the hotel compound into a completely different city than the one we had seen seven days earlier.”
1611: Matthew Price BBC News, Tripoli
says of the guards at the Rixos: “It was firmly their belief that if we went outside of the hotel, the rebels would capture us, kill us and rape the women.”
1609: Matthew Price BBC News, Tripoli
has just left Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel. He says he and other journalists were in a 220sq m area where two gunmen guarding them thought they were fighting for Col Gaddafi and still believed that he would win the battle.
Now driving in four (Red Cross) vehicles through the streets of Tripoli, “Free men,” towards a “safe location.”
More news as it becomes available
The 35 foreign journalists trapped inside Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel by Gadhafi loyalists for five days have been set free. The armed guards had been patrolling the hotel’s perimeter and corridors, and preventing journalists from leaving. But on Wednesday afternoon at 4.15 local time in Tripoli, the crisis came to an end and journalists were finally allowed leave. Conditions had deteriorated sharply on Wednesday morning, with food and water in short supply. The journalists from CNN, Sky, BBC, Fox, Reuters, the Associated Press and Chinese television, were originally allowed into Libya to cover the conflict with the permission of Gadhafi. But when violence escalated in the city centre over the weekend, they were left trapped inside