Foreign journalists endangered in Tripoli

Joe Pompeo

During the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, journalists on the ground were subject to violent attacks from mobs loyal to the country's then embattled dictator, Hosni Mubarak. Those covering the chaotic fall of Muammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya from the nation's capital city, Tripoli, now face their own dangers.

BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes came under fire Monday morning while traveling with a rebel convoy en route to the city center.

"We ran straight into an ambush," he said. "We saw a 20 millimeter anti-aircraft carrier firing directly into the front of our convoy." Wingfield-Hayes came away from the attack unscathed. (You can watch a video of his close call here.)

Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford embedded with a rebel convoy making its way into Tripoli Sunday night. As her executive editor told the Huffington Post, Crawford made "an assessment whether it was safe to go in with the rebel convoy into Tripoli." She was therefore able to broadcast live during the advance.

But even the 30 or so foreign correspondents still holed up in Tripoli's Rixos Hotel, where government handlers have minded them throughout the months-long conflict, are potentially in harm's way.

"We're in one of the areas which is still controlled by pro-Gadhafi forces," the BBC's Matthew Price said in an interview with the U.K. broadcaster Monday. "The streets outside here and in the immediate area certainly have Gadhafi army troops out there, and we believe this is one of two ... areas of the city where they still have control."

CNN's Matthew Chance tweeted mid-afternoon Eastern time: "It's no fun being stuck in one of #Gadhafi's few remaining strongholds ... gunmen now refusing to let us leave." He added in a subsequent tweet an hour later: "On bright side, am with excellent group of journalists at #Rixos. We are feeling our way around corridors with candles. No power."

They seem to be making the best of it.

"Very dark, very quiet at the #Rixos some gunshots cracking outside," Chance updated his followers a little before 4:30. "We raided the hotel larder and got tons of cheese!"

UPDATE 6 PM: The Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement Monday evening through the press advocacy organization's deputy director, Robert Mahoney: "We are concerned about the safety of journalists trapped in Tripoli's Rixos hotel. All sides in the conflict have an obligation to avoid harming journalists and to respect their status under international law as civilians."