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AFP Journalist Abduction in Gaza Sparks Foreigners' Evacuation
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Palestinian security department has urged westerners, especially Europeans and Americans, to leave the Gaza Strip as the condition and whereabouts of an abducted AFP journalist remains unknown.

"We asked international organizations that work in the Gaza Strip to evacuate their foreigner employees for fears of new kidnappings," a senior security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters on Wednesday.

He added that security agencies are on high alert after hearing of possible kidnappings targeting Europeans and Americans.

Meanwhile, the Agency France-Presse (AFP)'s photographer Jaime Razuri, 50, a Peruvian, who was kidnapped on Jan. 1 in front of the AFP office in Gaza by unknown gunmen, has been held captive for the third day.

The Palestinian factions, including governing Hamas, Fatah and the Islamic Jihad have unilaterally condemned Razuri's abduction and called for captors to release him unconditionally.

Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Helal told reporters that the ministry has no information about the kidnappers.

Foreign journalists have been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip before but are usually released unharmed hours later. However, the abducted Razuri has recalled the kidnapping of two FOX news journalists last August who were held for 12 days.

The AFP's journalist is the first abduction in 2007 since the Hamas-led government announced a plan to protect foreign press. The abduction also serves as another stark reminder of the widening state of chaos and disorder in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day, witnesses said that a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement was shot dead by a sniper in northern Gaza Strip.

The sniper fled after he gunned down Eynaia Emad, 23, while he was sitting in front of a Fatah senior militant's house in the town of Beit Lahiya, according to the witnesses.

Meanwhile, paramedics announced that a member of Hamas' military wing lay seriously wounded in hospital after a mysterious explosion at his house in the east of Gaza city.
Moreover, people found the body of a teenager in central Gaza Strip and another body of a woman in the north on Wednesday morning.

The woman's body bore signs of torture and investigations into the two killings are under way.

Abbas is expected to reshuffle security agency chiefs, seemingly in a new bid to end the lawlessness state and internal violence, a security source said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2007)


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