U.K. Reporter Missing

A reporter for The Guardian newspaper disappeared Wednesday in Iraq and was believed to have been kidnapped.

Rory Carroll, 33, an Irish citizen and the paper's Baghdad correspondent, was on assignment when he vanished, the paper said in a statement.

"It is believed Mr. Carroll may have been taken by a group of armed men," the statement said. "The Guardian is urgently seeking information about Mr. Carroll's whereabouts and condition."

Carroll's father, Joe, said The Guardian (search) told him three people were with his son when he was abducted, "and one of them did get a bit roughed up, but he was the only one kidnapped."

Britain's Foreign Office said it was aware of reports that a journalist had been abducted, and a spokesman said it were seeking more information.

A story in The Guardian's Wednesday edition about Saddam Hussein's trial carries Rory Carroll's byline. He has been based in Baghdad for nine months and previously reported from South Africa and Rome.

Earlier Wednesday, Rory Carroll broadcast a live report on the trial for the Romanian news channel Realitatea TV (search). The station said he had been working for them on a freelance basis, and that Rory Carroll was kidnapped while trying to learn what ordinary Iraqis thought of the trial.

Joe Carroll, a former correspondent for The Irish Times (search) newspaper, said his son had tried to reassure him about his safety in Baghdad.

"He knew we were worried, but he used to reassure us and say that it was not as dangerous as people outside think," Joe Carroll told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"He said if you observed basic rules and security you would be OK. We knew he was playing it down for our sake and there was obvious danger."

Insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 220 foreigners and killed nearly 40.

The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (search) said 72 journalists and their assistants had died in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.

"Past experience with journalists being taken hostage in Iraq showed that a significant expression of support in the first few hours after the kidnapping were vital," the group said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the safety of journalists is still far from being assured in Iraq and there are grounds for suspecting that tension linked to the start of Saddam Hussein's trial are having repercussions on the press."

The last reported abduction of a foreigner was in September, when a video posted on the Internet showed Garabet Jekerjian being held at gunpoint. The Lebanese man works for a company supplying coalition troops. The date of his kidnapping was not known; the video was posted Sept. 12.

Britain's top official for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, said the British government would help in any way it could to secure Rory Carroll's release and urged his abductors to remember that he was Irish. Ireland is an officially neutral nation that was critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.