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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK


UK

Journalist seized at Chechen border



A British journalist has been seized by Russian forces on the Chechen border.

Anthony Loyd, 32, of The Times, was detained with American freelance photographer Tyler Hicks as the car they were in tried to cross a roadblock.

The assistant foreign editor of The Times, Allan Arthur, said he understood a Bangladeshi, who was not detained, had driven through a roadblock with the two journalists in an attempt to reach Chechnya.

Mr Arthur said Mr Loyd, who is unmarried, was a former Army officer and had been filing reports from the region for some time.

"We are confident that he will be released shortly as as far as we are concerned he has done nothing wrong," he said.

Access requested

Journalists have been warned by the Foreign Office to stay away from Chechnya because it is so unstable.

A Foreign Office spokesman said every attempt was being made to contact the two men.

British officials were in talks with Russian authorities, he added.

"We want to know why Mr Loyd and his companion have been detained and we are requesting access to him," the spokesman said.

"We are also in contact with The Times newspaper and Mr Loyd's relatives."

Mr Loyd, an award-winning journalist, has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Sierra Leone and Bosnia.

'War junkie'

He has written a book about his experiences covering the Bosnian war, called My War Gone By, I Miss It So.

In the book Mr Loyd admits to being a "war junkie" who sought out conflicts.

He writes of the "oppressive stagnation of peacetime, growing older, of domestic tragedy and trivial routine ... Sometimes I pray for another war just to save me".

Earlier this year he was forced to flee Kosovo for Macedonia after learning a price had been placed on his head by an ultra-nationalist Serb group.

Mr Loyd is from a military family and spent five years as an officer with the Royal Green Jackets.

Afterwards he became a journalist, arriving in Bosnia to report on the conflict as a freelance, before joining The Times.

Colleagues have described him as a "brave and excellent" correspondent.



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