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Hunt on for kidnapped BBC scribe

world Updated: Mar 13, 2007 13:49 IST

AFP
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Palestinian security services were hunting on Tuesday for a BBC correspondent kidnapped at gunpoint by armed men in Gaza, the latest foreigner abducted in the increasingly lawless territory.

Alan Johnston, 44, was forced from his car at gunpoint in Gaza City on Monday as he drove home from his office.

Johnston, a Briton, has been reported from Gaza for the past three years, one of the few Western journalists to be permanently based in the volatile territory. His posting was due to end in April.

The Palestinian interior ministry and the presidency ordered all security services and police to search for the missing journalist, and officials spoke out against the abduction.

Johnston, who is single, joined the BBC in 1991 and has been a correspondent in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Kabul, Afghanistan.

Abductions of foreigners have been fairly common in the impoverished Gaza Strip, with about 20 such cases in the past year.

In most cases, the kidnappers used the hostages as bargaining chips to gain concessions from the Palestinian Authority, and the detainees were released unharmed.

The most recent kidnapping of a foreign journalist involved AFP photographer Jaime Razuri, who was snatched in Gaza City on January 1 and released unharmed seven days later.