Times reporter Anthony Loyd kidnapped and shot in Syria but later freed with photographer

Times foreign correspondent Anthony Loyd has been shot twice whilst being held hostage in Syria but managed to escape with photographer colleague Jack Hill.

The paper reports today that the pair had been reporting from Aleppo for several days. The Assad regime has been bombing rebel-held areas of Syria's largest city, reducing much of it to rubble.

The Times reports that the pair were returning to Turkey from the town of Tall Rifat yesterday morning with bodyguards when their vehicle was forced to the side of the road by two cars less than ten miles from the border.

Seven men then abducted the two journalists along with their local guide. The paper reports that photographer Hill was tied up in the boot of the car along with their guide and Loyd was hooded and bound in the back seat.

According to The Times they were taken to a warehouse where it became apparent they had been double-crossed by the men they had trusted to get them across the border.

The Times reports that Hill and the fixer managed to force open the boot of the car and overpower a guard, allowing the fixer to escape on a moped. But Hill was recaptured. The two journalists were then severely beaten by the guards and Loyd was shot twice in the leg at close range to stop him escaping.

Loyd and Hill were eventually freed, The Times reports, when a rebel group called the Islamic Front heard of their capture and demanded that they be released.

Last night the two journalists and their fixer crossed the border into Turkey.

Kidnapping has become a major threat to foreign journalists seeking to report on the Syrian civil war. 

Press Gazette reported last year on how the escalating threat of kidnap has deterred many foreign reporters from covering the conflict.

Loyd has worked for The Times for 20 years and was named foreign reporter of the year at The Press Awards this year for reports from Syria which included an exclusive account of a nerve gas attack.

Jack Hill's pictures from Syria were recognised by the UK Picture Editors' Guild last year when he won the award for photo essay of the year.

Interviewed by Press Gazette in 2007 Loyd said: "It's quite common for people to go to war, either as soldiers or journalists to prove themselves brave or test their mettle. People do ring me up and ask how they should go about it and I say be forward and be decisive. Do it and be bold about it, don't just sit around thinking about it as so many people do. If it doesn't work out, at least you did it."

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists 63 journalists have been killed in Syria since 2011 in the course of their work.

Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in the Syrian city of Homs in February 2012. She died when the building she was staying at, a make-shift press centre, came under rocket attack from forces loyal to the Assad regime. Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy lost a leg in the same attack. 

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