Three kidnapped Britons released in Gaza
The abductors threatened to abduct more foreigners if Israel refused to end its "no-go" zone in the Strip.world Updated: Dec 31, 2005 10:38 IST
A British aid worker and her parents were whisked out of the Gaza Strip by British diplomats on early Saturday, hours after being released by Palestinian gunmen who abducted the family two days earlier.
Kate Burton, 25, a worker with the Al-Mezan human rights group in Gaza, was seized at gunpoint on Wednesday with her parents, Hugh and Helen, in the southern town of Rafah. The parents had come to Gaza on vacation to visit their daughter, officials said.
The kidnapping was the latest in a string of abductions of foreigners in recent months that have underlined the inability of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to impose order in the coastal strip since Israel's withdrawal in September. The growing unrest threatens to weaken Abbas ahead of parliamentary elections next month.
After a frantic two-day search for the hostages, Palestinian security forces managed to win their release on lateFriday night, said Palestinian mediator Kamal Sharafi.
A Palestinian security caron Saturdaydropped Hugh Burton off in front of an upscale hotel, where British diplomats quickly put him into a diplomatic vehicle and sped away toward Israel. Burton did not speak to reporters, and the mother and daughter were being taken to Israel separately.
A previously unknown group calling itself the Mujahedeen Brigades Jerusalem Branch claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and threatened to abduct more foreigners if Israel doesn't end its "no-go" zone in the northern Gaza Strip.
British diplomats said there had been no contact with the kidnappers and denied a deal had been struck.