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Last 3 Foreign Hostages Released in Gaza Strip
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Three foreigners, taken hostage by Palestinian militants on Tuesday following an Israeli army raid on a West Bank prison, were released in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, sources said.

Six other foreign hostages had been released on Tuesday. The sources said that two French nationals and a South Korea national, all journalists, had been released and handed over to the Palestinian police.

Nine foreigners-- two Australians, one American, four French nationals, one Swiss and one Korean-- were abducted in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank on Tuesday by Palestinian militants of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The PFLP claimed that the spree of abductions was a protest against the Israeli military operation at a major prison in the West Bank town of Jericho.

Israeli troops tore through the Jericho prison and snatched six prominent Palestinian militants jailed there including the PFLP chief Ahmed Saadat who has been accused of ordering the 2001 assassination of an Israeli minister.

Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khousa told reporters that the crisis of the kidnapping of the nine foreigners was over with all the hostages released.

Condemning both the Israeli prison raid and the series of abductions, Abu Khousa urged the Palestinian people, angered by the Israeli move, to exercise restraint and not to attack foreigners on the Palestinian territories.

Two Palestinians were killed during the Israeli raid on the Jericho prison, which led to widespread protests across the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian National Authority rebuked Britain and the United States for withdrawing monitors from the Jericho prison shortly before the Israeli raid.

Palestinian protestors stormed properties of the European Union countries and the United States and set fire to the British cultural center in Gaza City on Tuesday.

(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2006)

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