Two British journalists detained in Libya

TRIPOLI Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:37pm GMT

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan militiamen have detained two British journalists working for Iran's Press TV and are now holding them in the capital Tripoli, officials and the media station said.

Press TV said on its website a reporter and cameraman along with two local residents were seized Wednesday by a brigade in the coastal town of Misrata, whose rebel fighters fought in last year's war which ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

It said it had not been in contact with the four since Tuesday. It identified the two British men as Nicholas Davies and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson.

A source at the Libyan Interior Ministry confirmed they were being held by a Misrata brigade in Tripoli.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said two British nationals had been detained and confirmed their identities.

"Our embassy in Tripoli is providing consular assistance," she said.

It was not clear why the men had been detained.

Libya's transitional government, appointed in November, is leading the oil-producing nation to its first free elections in June but its struggling to impose its authority on a country awash with weapons.

Heavily-armed militias have stepped into the vacuum, carving the country into local fiefdoms. Their fighters say they are loyal to Libya's new rulers but answer only to their own commanders. They often clash because of disputes over who controls which neighbourhoods.

(Reporting by Taha Zargoun and Tim Castle in London; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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