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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 13:06 GMT
Fears grow for ITN crew
ITV reporter Terry Lloyd
Terry Lloyd is a very experienced reporter
Fears are growing for three ITV news crew missing and feared dead after coming under fire in Iraq.

Reporter Terry Lloyd and three colleagues were driving in two vehicles to the southern city of Basra when they were shot at.

Cameraman Daniel Demoustier, who escaped with injuries, said it was "friendly fire" which attacked them and killed about a dozen Iraqi soldiers.

The Ministry of Defence is investigating the incident. An MoD spokesman said it was still unclear what had happened and he could not comment further on whether friendly fire was involved.

ITN, which produces news for ITV, Five and Channel 4, and employs the men, said concerns were increasing for Mr Lloyd, 51, cameraman Fred Nerac and local translator Hussein Othman.

A spokesman said: "Fourteen hours after the incident we still have no conclusive evidence as to the whereabouts of the three missing men.

"However, such evidence as we do have has given us increased cause for concern."

'Flames'

Mr Demoustier told the Mail on Sunday they had passed through military checkpoints and been greeted in some areas by jubilant Iraqi civilians.

They realised they were at Iman Anas, and nearing the frontline, when they came across a group of Iraqi soldiers, who followed them.
Daniel Demoustier
Daniel Demoustier was rescued by the Mail on Sunday

"Immediately the allied tanks started heavy firing directly at us," he told the Mail.

"Rounds were coming straight at the Jeep, smashing the windows and puncturing holes in the bodywork.

"Then the whole car was on fire. We were enveloped in flames. It was terrifying.

"I'm so angry that we were fired on by the allies. The Iraqis must have been their real target but I'm sure they were surrendering - and anyway they were all dead within minutes."

Mr Lloyd had been sitting in the same car, but vanished from the passenger seat as they tried to flee the firing, Mr Demoustier said.

He drove on until his vehicle caught fire and then he jumped into a ditch, where he hid until he was rescued by Mail on Sunday crew.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence told BBC News Online: "We are still trying to establish the details of what happened.

"They weren't 'embedded' journalists and it's extremely unsafe moving between Iraqi and coalition forces."

Reporting pedigree

Defence sources said the ITN team ignored military advice to turn back.

But Mr Demoustier said soldiers at checkpoints had been "casual" and the Jeep was clearly marked as a TV vehicle.

News correspondent Terry Lloyd, 51, joined ITN as a local television reporter in 1983.

He has wide-ranging experience, including stints in Lebanon, Kosovo, Bosnia and Cambodia.

He reported from the Iraqi city of Halabje, after Saddam Hussein dropped a chemical bomb on Kurdish people inside the country.


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