Four New York Times reporters covering the clashes between forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and rebels in Libya have gone missing, the newspaper has said.
"We have talked with officials of the Libyan government in Tripoli, and they tell us they are attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of our journalists," said Bill Keller, executive editor of the paper.
"We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed," he said in an article posted last evening.
NYT editors said that they were last in contact with the journalists, who were reporting from the northern port city of Ajdabiya, on Tuesday morning New York time.
Pro-Gaddafi forces have gained control of most of Ajdabiya after two days of relentless shelling but still face pockets of resistance in the city of 140,000 people.
The newspaper could not confirm secondhand reports that they had been swept up by Libyan government forces.
The NYT identified the missing journalists as Anthony Shadid, the Beirut bureau chief and twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting; Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer who was kidnapped by Taliban in 2009, and two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, who have worked extensively in the Middle East and Africa.
The NYT said that it had safety procedures in place to track its journalists in areas of conflict.
"We expect to hear from them several times a day — and so do their colleagues in the field, who are often our early warning system of any trouble," said Susan Chira, foreign editor of the newspaper.
On Saturday Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed and correspondent Baybah Wald Amhadi was wounded when their car was ambushed near Benghazi.