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Four New York Times staffers go missing in Libya

Libya rebels opposition
A Libyan rebel, member of the Warfala tribe parades on a horse in Benghazi on March 11, 2011. Reporting amid the recent chaos in the Middle East has proved incredibly hazardous for journalists. PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images

Covering the various uprisings in the Middle East has proven incredibly hazardous for the journalism profession, no more so than in Libya.

Just last week, an Al Jazeera cameraman was shot and killed covering the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi.

On Wednesday, an award-rich team of reporters and photographers from the New York Times went missing, the paper announced.

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In a report on the newspaper's Media Decoder blog, it states:

"Editors at the paper said they were last in contact with the journalists on Tuesday morning New York time. The paper said it had received second-hand reports that members of its reporting team on the ground in the port city of Ajdabiya had been swept up by Libyan government forces."

The Times' executive editor Bill Keller said the Libyan government has assured the paper that they will find and return the journalists as soon as possible, if they were indeed captured by government forces.

The missing journalists are all combat-reporting veterans. They are: reporter Anthony Shadid, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 and 2010 for his Iraq war coverage; reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009 and later freed by British commandos; photographer Tyler Hicks, who has worked extensively in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia, to name a few; and photographer Lynsey Addario, who has also covered most of the world's large conflicts in the last decade.

Even with their extensive experience, it should come as little shock that even they were caught up in the tied of difficulty and violence against journalists in the Middle East recently. The Committee to Protect Journalists says that it has documented "more than 300 attacks on journalists covering political unrest across the Middle East and North Africa."

Four journalists have been killed in the region recently, dozens detained and assaulted, and widespread censorship has imposed.

In response to news of the missing Times reporters, the White House urged the governments in the Middle East to protect journalists from harassment or violence. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday: "We strongly urge the governments in the entire region, in this case those in Libya to protect journalists, allow them to do their work. Do not harass or in any way detain or use violence against journalists."