4 journalists missing in eastern Afghanistan

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AP) -- Four international journalists were missing Monday after they were stopped by armed men along a road between the eastern city of Jalalabad and the capital, Kabul. Gunmen opened fire after the journalists were taken from their cars, drivers said.

Those missing included a television cameraman and a photographer working for the Reuters news agency; a journalist with the Spanish daily El Mundo; and a journalist with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

The group was traveling in a convoy of six to eight cars through a province that recently came mainly under the control of anti-Taliban forces. However, some Taliban stragglers and Arab fighters loyal to Osama bin Laden are still believed to be in the area.

Drivers said two of the cars were stopped by a group of six armed men who forced the journalists from the vehicles.

The gunmen began to march the group up into the surrounding hills, they said. Driver Mohammed Farrad said he then heard three or four bursts of Kalashnikov fire.

"They took the journalists (up the mountain), and when the journalists turned to look at them, the gunmen shot," he said.

The drivers fled and warned the rest of the convoy, which was some distance behind, to turn back.

Authorities from the new anti-Taliban administration in Jalalabad were organizing a search in the area.

In London, Reuters identified its missing employees as television cameraman Harry Burton, an Australian; and Azizullah Haidari, an Afghan-born photographer.

Maria Grazia Cutuli, a journalist with Corriere della Sera, was also missing, said Guido Santevecchi, an editor at the daily in Milan, Italy.

El Mundo said one of its leading journalists, Julio Fuentes, was traveling in the convoy and also had not been heard from.