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Monday, January 01, 2007

Hamas, Fatah members grabbed in Gaza

Members of the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions carried out tit-for-tat kidnappings Monday in northern Gaza City, violating an internal agreement to avoid such deeds, witnesses said.

Seven of the Hamas members kidnapped had been released later Monday evening, sources said.

They said that initially Hamas gunmen abducted the brother of a senior Fatah member in northern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabaliya, provoking Samih al-Madhoun of Fatah's armed wing to seize a number of Hamas loyalists.

They said a total of three Fatah members were abducted by Hamas, which had 13 loyalists kidnapped by Fatah.

Local media reported two people wounded in gun battles that coincided with the kidnappings.

Also Monday, a French news agency Agence France Presse photographer was kidnapped in Gaza City on Monday just before sundown, the news agency and security officials said.

AFP identified the photographer as Jaime Razuri, 50, from Peru. An AFP reporter said the photographer was returning from an assignment in Gaza and was abducted at gunpoint as he got out of his car with his driver.

Palestinian security officials said the kidnapping happened in central Gaza City, in the area where many foreign news agencies have offices. They said the victim was standing at an intersection when about five masked men approached him, pushed him in a car and sped away.

The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details. There has been no public claim of responsibility for the kidnapping.

The AFP reporter said the photographer spent most of his career covering Latin America.

This would be just the latest in a string of kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza in recent months. Most have been carried out by disgruntled workers seeking promises of payment of long overdue salaries or splinter militant groups. In most cases, the victims have been released unharmed within hours. An exception was the abduction of two Fox News employees over the summer - they were held for two weeks.

Most of the kidnapped foreigners have been journalists, but aid workers have also been targets.

news agencies

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