Guardian journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad missing in Libya

Award-winning Guardian foreign correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has gone missing after last being heard from near Zawiyah – a town in the west of Libya which has been the scene of fierce fighting.

According to The Guardian he last made contact via a third party on Sunday. The paper said it is now making urgent efforts to locate him through the Libyan and UK governments. Brazilian newspaper journalist Andrei Netto, who the Guardian reporter was travelling with, is also understood to be missing.

The Iraqi-born Guardian journalist has won numerous prizes for his reporting from conflict zones around the world and in 2008 was named British Press Awards foreign news reporter of the year.

He is also a former winner of the James Cameron and Martha Gellhorn awards and this year was nominated for a Press Award for a fourth time. He has worked for The Guardian since 2004.

Three BBC journalists were arrested on Monday outside Zawiyah and held for 21 hours at various military compounds by Gaddafi security forces. They were savagely beaten and subject to mock executions.

The Gaddafi regime has apparently undertaken strenuous steps to block reporting from inside Zawiyah which has come under heavy attack after its people rose up against the government. This has included a ring of road blocks preventing journalists entering the town and an internet shutdown.

Earlier this week Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford, cameraman Martin Smith and deputy foreign editor Tim Miller were the only western journalists to report from inside Zawiyah as it came under heavy attack from pro-Gaddafi forces.

The Sky trio managed to safely leave the town filing a report yesterday chronicling three days of fighting. Crawford returned to her Dubai base last night.

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