No news from French reporters missing in Iraq

22nd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 23 (AFP) - Two French journalists who disappeared in Iraq last week still have not made contact with their employers, the newspaper Le Figaro and broadcaster Radio France said Monday.

PARIS, Aug 23 (AFP) - Two French journalists who disappeared in Iraq last week still have not made contact with their employers, the newspaper Le Figaro and broadcaster Radio France said Monday.

Christian Chesnot, a reporter for Radio France, and Georges Malbrunot, a correspondent for Le Figaro, have been missing since Friday, when they were to have left Baghdad for the central holy city of Najaf.

Najaf has been the scene of a nearly three-week standoff pitting US forces against Shiite militia loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.

"We're worried because we've had no news since Friday morning. We're hopeful because we've had no bad news," Le Figaro's foreign news editor Pierre Rousselin told AFP.

As for the possibility that the two men were kidnapped, Rousselin replied: "We know it's a rather common practice in Iraq, especially on the Baghdad-Najaf road where they were supposed to be on Friday."

Kidnappings of journalists and other foreigners have become common in Iraq as insurgents attempt to force countries to withdraw their troops from the war-ravaged country or extort money.

"Knowing Georges and Christian, we know that they work together. We're pretty sure they were together but we're not 100 percent sure," he added.

The manager of Radio France's all-news station France Info, Michel Polacco, admitted to AFP: "For now, we're in the dark."

Polacco added that the news organisations were in close contact with the French foreign ministry, the French embassy in Iraq, the Red Cross and the Paris-based media watchdog group Reporters without Borders (RSF).

Both Rousseling and Polacco said officials had told them the two had not been found in Iraqi hospitals.

The French foreign ministry said Sunday it was doing everything possible to find the two men, with spokeswoman Marie Masdupuy saying: "The search is going on in all directions."

In Italy, an editor at the newspaper Diario said Monday that journalist Enzo Baldoni, missing since last Thursday, had likely been the victim of a kidnapping in which his driver was killed.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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