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Journo Describes 'Terrifying' Time in Rixos Hotel

Journalists feared being killed, used as human shields
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2011 6:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – For the five days they were held in Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel by Moammar Gadhafi loyalists, Matthew Chance and his fellow journalists feared they could be executed or used as "human shields." "We had been acting out in our heads these paranoid scenarios," Chance told the Huffington Post hours after being freed. The loyalists "were very aggressive," Chance adds to the Washington Post. "They accused us of being spies … when someone holding a Kalashnikov accuses you of that, it can be quite unnerving."

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The journalists were sometimes forced to stay in a dark room with no electricity, running water, or air conditioning, as shells struck the building and bullets flew by—and, at least once, through—the windows; mortars exploded outside, and food supplies dwindled. The miserable conditions made the journalists "depressed" and "very frustrated that we couldn’t get stories out, communications out," Chance says, calling the experience "terrifying." But when the loyalists finally "accepted that Libya was a different country and there was no Gadhafi in power anymore, they literally handed us their weapons and said, 'You can go,'" Chance says. Watch Chance’s 15-minute CNN segment at left or check out his compelling Twitter feed here. (Read more Rixos Hotel stories.)

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