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Demonstration in Gaza for freeing BBC correspondent

world Updated: Apr 25, 2007 18:24 IST
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Palestinian journalists blamed the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday for failing to secure the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston six weeks after he was captured at gunpoint in Gaza City by unknown militants.

"We hold the PA presidency and government responsible for not securing the release of Alan Johnston until now," Shamms Auda, a member of the Palestinian Committee to Protect Journalists, told at least 40 local and foreign journalists who gathered at the Erez crossing north of Gaza City to protest the abduction.

Auda urged foreign correspondents to continue reporting from the Gaza Strip.

Johnston's kidnappers are not the "real face" of the Palestinians; he told the protesters, who held up posters of the journalist and chanted, "Free, free Alan."

Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmad said in a statement to the BBC from his office Tuesday "according to the information we have" Johnston is "in good health."

He said the government of Premier Ismail Haniya, President Mahmoud Abbas and all Palestinian security services were making "extensive efforts" to achieve Johnston's freedom.

Abbas said in Stockholm last week that his intelligence services had told him the BBC correspondent "is alive."

A formerly unknown group calling itself the "Brigades of Jihad and Monotheism" claimed earlier this month that it had killed Johnston, 44.