Photographers Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks are among four New York Times journalists missing in Libya, The New York Times reported today. Also missing are reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell and Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid.

According to a statement from the Times, editors last had contact with the journalists on Tuesday when they were in the port city of Ajdabiya. The city is currently held by anti-government rebels who yesterday were preparing for a counter attack by Libyan government forces , the AP reported.

Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, said in a statement, ““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.” He added, “We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed.” The Times also said there were unconfirmed reports that the journalists may have been swept up by advancing government forces.

Times foreign editor Susan Chira said the paper has a system for tracking the whereabouts of its journalists in war zones, and expects them to call in several times a day. Other journalists covering the rebellion in Libya have been detained by the government. The BBC is reporting that  journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad with The Guardian newspaper in England, who had been held in Libyan custody since March 2,  was released today and is now safely out of the country.

Both Hicks and Addario have extensive experience covering conflict zones.  Addario, who is based in New Delhi, has covered Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Darfur for the Times, Time, National Geographic and other clients. She was the winner of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009.

Tyler Hicks, who is based in Istanbul, began shooting for the Times in 1999 and has been a staff photographer since 2002. He has covered Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq and the recent uprisings in Cairo for the paper.  He was named Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 2007 by Pictures of the Y ear International (POYi).  In an interview with The New York Times Lens blog published March 9, he described the fighting he had seen in Res Lanuf, Libya as the “thickest fighting in a single day” he had ever witnessed.

A Times spokesperson says the journalists’ families were alerted before the Times released its statement to the public.

(Photo: Hicks photographed Libyan rebels pushing towards Res Lanuf on March 9. Photo © Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

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