Irish journalist believed kidnapped in Iraq

The Guardian newspaper said today one of its reporters has disappeared in Iraq and it believes he was kidnapped.

The Guardian newspaper said today one of its reporters has disappeared in Iraq and it believes he was kidnapped.

Rory Carroll, 33, an Irish citizen who is the Guardian’s Baghdad correspondent, was on assignment when he vanished, the paper said in a statement.

“It is believed Mr Carroll may have been taken by a group of armed men,” the statement said.

“The Guardian is urgently seeking information about Mr Carroll’s whereabouts and condition.”

A story in today’s edition of The Guardian about Saddam Hussein’s trial carries Carroll’s byline.

He has been based in Baghdad for nine months and previously reported from South Africa and Rome.

Insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 220 foreigners and killed nearly 40.

Carroll graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and began his career as a reporter for the Irish News in Belfast.

In 1997, he was named Northern Ireland young journalist of the year.

He joined The Guardian as a home news reporter, and in 1999 was posted to Rome to become Southern Europe correspondent.

He was appointed South Africa correspondent in 2002.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said its consular section was aware of the reports, but was not currently able to confirm any details.

A family friend said they had not been able to contact Rory's father, former Irish Times North American correspondent Joe Carroll, about his son's disappearance.

Speaking from the family home in Blackrock, south Dublin, he said The Guardian had been in contact with Rory’s relatives, but they were not yet willing to make a statement.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ``We are aware of reports that a journalist has been abducted. We are trying to find out more information.

“Our information is that the journalist is an Irish national. We are in contact with the Irish authorities.

“We would ask those involved to release him unharmed.”

The news came as former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s trial opened in Baghdad.

Saddam has pleaded not guilty to charges including pre-meditated murder and torture.

The wave of kidnappings in Iraq started soon after the fall of Baghdad.

Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan was taken hostage exactly a year ago - November 19.

She was later killed, despite working for the Iraqi people for 30 years.

British engineer Ken Bigley, held by the One God and Holy War group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in October last year.

In August last year, British journalist James Brandon was abducted but later released following the apparent intervention of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

In April last year, Briton Gary Teeley was released following six days of captivity after being snatched in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

In June, Florence Aubenas, a French journalist, and Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, her Iraqi assistant, were both freed after 157 days of captivity in Iraq.

In December last year, two other French journalists, Christian Chesnot, of Radio France Internationale, and Georges Malbrunot, of French daily Le Figaro, were freed after four months in captivity in Iraq.

An Italian agent secured the release in Baghdad of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had been held hostage for a month.

The Italian military intelligence chief in Baghdad was shot by friendly fire from US troops during the release.

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