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1986: British journalist McCarthy kidnapped
John McCarthy, a British TV journalist, has been abducted on his way to the airport in the war-torn capital of Lebanon, Beirut.

Mr McCarthy, aged 30, was employed by World Wide Television News (WWTN) based in London.

The British ambassador, John Gray, wrote to British citizens in Beirut three days ago, urging them to leave but Mr McCarthy had waited till he heard from his employers.

He was on his way to the airport when he was kidnapped. An armed guard and an escorting car were unable to stop his abduction.

Vice-president of WWTN Robert Burke told the Guardian newspaper: "A car blocked the road near the airport. Four gun-wielding men emerged from the car, commandeered Mr McCarthy's car and drove off with him to an unknown destination."

Bodies found on street

The news comes on the same day as three bodies, believed to be of British hostages, were found on the streets of Beirut.

It seems the killings were a reprisal for British support of US bombing raids on Libya two days ago.

The three are believed to be British hostages - two teachers, Leigh Douglas and Philip Padfield and United Nations Information Officer and journalist Alec Collett.

The bodies were taken to the American University Hospital and tentatively identified by First Secretary of the Irish Embassy, John Rowan. He had gone there looking for Irishman and teacher, Brian Keenan, kidnapped earlier this month. He was not among the dead.

An official at the American University of Beirut, where Mr Padfield worked as a teacher, said there was "a lot of confusion" about the identity of the third man.

They were found wrapped in blood-stained white cloth on a street near the village of Ruweisat al Sofar, east of Beirut, after a phone call to the Voice of the Mountain radio station controlled by Druze militia in the area.

They had been shot in the back of the head. A note nearby read: "The Arab Commando Cells are carrying out the death sentences on a CIA official and two British intelligence officers."

There are still 60 British men in West Beirut and the Lebanese Army is trying to get the Shiite militia that control the area to allow helicopters to airlift foreigners to safety.

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John McCarthy
John McCarthy was on his way to the airport when his car was seized

In Contex
The following day the three bodies were positively identified as Leigh Douglas, Philip Padfield and an American, Peter Kilburn - not Alec Collett as first reported.

Mr Collett's whereabouts are still unknown although it is believed he was murdered by his kidnappers in April 1986 and his body buried in the Bekaa Valley.

John McCarthy's girlfriend Jill Morrell began a long campaign for his release. He was finally freed on 8 August 1991 having spent more than five years held captive by militant group Islamic Jihad, making him Britain's longest-held hostage in Lebanon.

He had spent most of those years held with Irishman Brian Keenan, released in 1990. The two men published a book and wrote a screenplay, Blind Flight, about their experiences.

John McCarthy and Jill Morrell wrote a best-selling book together about the ordeal but they separated amicably in 1994.

In April 1999 John McCarthy married Anna Ottewill, whom he met while working on the book of a BBC television series Island Race.

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