Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Three British citizens kidnapped in the southern Gaza Strip


Three British citizens were kidnapped as they entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt through the Rafah crossing Wednesday, Palestinian witnesses and security officials said.

The Palestinian police said the kidnappers' car was spotted heading north, and that a pursuit was underway.

A representative of a European Union force monitoring the Rafah border crossing said he was unaware of the incident.

A Palestinian police source said those abducted in Rafah were believed to include a woman who worked with a local human-rights group. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The incident was the latest in a series of abductions in Gaza that has undermined Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' attempts to establish order in the coastal strip following Israel's summer withdrawal.

Last week, the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) organization briefly kidnapped two foreign teachers as they made their way to work at a private American school in the Gaza Strip.

The group said the abduction was to pressure the PA to release leaders jailed in the West Bank town of Jericho for killing Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001.