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BBC studying tape purportedly from kidnappers

The BBC said on Wednesday that it is studying the contents of a videotape supposedly from the kidnappers of its Gaza journalist who was taken hostage two months ago.

world Updated: May 09, 2007 13:51 IST


The BBC said on Wednesday that it is studying the contents of a videotape supposedly from the kidnappers of its Gaza journalist who was taken hostage two months ago.

BBC was handed the tape, which apparently includes certain demands and pictures, one of which is apparently Alan Johnston's BBC identity card, by the Al-Jazeera news channel.

Johnston was snatched at gunpoint as he drove home from work in Gaza City on March 12. Having spent more than eight weeks in captivity he has become by far the longest-kept Westerner in the unruly territory.

The tape was delivered to Al-Jazeera in Gaza, and was produced by a group that calls itself Jaish-e-al-Islam, or The Army of Islam.

The BBC declined to comment further.

Palestinian authorities said recently that they have had contact with Johnston's kidnappers and know his whereabouts, but will not carry out a rescue operation so as not to risk his safety.

Johnston, 44, was the only Western journalist left working full-time in the increasingly dangerous Gaza Strip when he was abducted.

He is the last of around 20 foreign journalists and aid workers to be abducted in Gaza in the past year. All of them have so far been released unharmed, with most used to lever concessions from the Palestinian authorities.

Johnston's ordeal has sparked international protests, with solidarity demonstrations held in Belgium, Egypt, Lebanon and throughout Britain.