Rebecca Santana "is on her way back to Moscow and doing just fine," Chuck Holmes, foreign editor of Cox Newspapers said by telephone from Washington.

  

Earlier in the day, the US embassy said it had filed a missing person's report after Santana failed to contact her editors since arriving on Sunday in Russia's restive North Caucasus region.

  

But Holmes said the reporter called him around 1330 GMT to say that she was fine.

  

"She has been in Chechnya for the past couple of days, reporting and unaware that there was any kind of search going on," Holmes said.

 

Alarm

  

The concern over her whereabouts was sparked after Santana failed to meet a contact who then raised the alarm, Holmes said.

 

"She has been in Chechnya for the past couple of days, reporting and unaware that there was any kind of search going on"

Chuck Holmes,
foreign editor, Cox Newspapers,
Washington

Santana, who graduated from Columbia University journalism school in 1997, first came to Russia in 1999 not knowing a word of Russian, after having worked in the Baltics for various publications.

  

She learned the language and worked as a stringer for various publications before eventually joining Cox Newspapers as their correspondent in Moscow.
  

Several foreign journalists and aid workers have gone missing in or near Chechnya, which in the past decade has gone through two wars with Russian troops and a lawless period of de facto independence.

  

Last July AFP's local correspondent in the region, Ali Astamirov, was pulled by armed men from a car in neighboring Ingushetia.

 

He has not been heard from since, despite numerous appeals by AFP to local officials and President Vladimir Putin to help find him.