March 13, 2007 – A BBC correspondent was kidnapped in the Gaza Strip yesterday by unknown assailants, Palestinian security officials said. Police identified the journalist as Alan Johnston, who has been the BBC’s correspondent in Gaza for three years.
Officials said his rental car was found abandoned in Gaza City and that a search was under way.
Rushdi Abualouf, a senior BBC producer in Gaza, said no other staff were with Johnston when he was driving home from the BBC office in the coastal strip. “We have reason to believe he was kidnapped,” Abualouf said. “We have no information about the conditions of his captivity and we received no claim of responsibility by any group.”
Johnston is believed to be the only Western journalist still based full-time in the Gaza Strip. Most other journalists moved out of the impoverished territory last year as fighting between rival Hamas and Fatah factions intensified.
“(We) are concerned for his safety,” the BBC said earlier in a statement. “We’re trying to gather as much information as possible.”
A British Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of [the] reports and are urgently looking into the matter.”
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