Still no word on kidnapped BBC journalist

The BBC today said there was still no word on the whereabouts of a BBC journalist kidnapped in Gaza three days ago, and made a fresh appeal for his safe return.

The BBC today said there was still no word on the whereabouts of a BBC journalist kidnapped in Gaza three days ago, and made a fresh appeal for his safe return.

Television correspondent Alan Johnston was snatched from his car by four masked gunmen in Gaza City on Monday, in the latest of a string of kidnappings of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip.

No one has claimed responsibility for taking him.

“We have had no firm information about Alan’s whereabouts since he left our office here in Gaza on Monday afternoon,” BBC Middle East bureaux editor Simon Wilson said in a brief statement to Palestinian and foreign journalists.

“We would therefore urge everyone with influence here to continue their efforts, so that Alan may be reunited with his family and colleagues at the earliest opportunity.”

Johnston, from Scotland, had been reporting from Gaza for the past three years.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has condemned the abduction and said he has ordered security forces to search for the kidnappers.

In the past 18 months, more than a dozen foreign journalists and aid workers have been abducted in Gaza, an area plagued by crime, political violence and lawlessness.

Most of the kidnappings have been carried out by gunmen seeking favours from the government or trying to settle scores with rivals.

In most cases, victims have been released unharmed within hours.

An exception was the abduction last summer of two Fox News employees who were held for two weeks, prompting many foreign journalists to refrain from entering Gaza.

The last foreigner taken hostage was Jaime Razuri, 50, a Peruvian photographer on assignment for French news agency Agence France Presse, who was abducted at gunpoint on January 1 and released a week later.

In October 2006, AP photographer Emilio Morenatti was abducted and released unharmed after 15 hours.

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