France works for release of France 3 soundman

16th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 16 (AFP) - France said Tuesday it had information about a French television soundman who was abducted in the Gaza Strip on the weekend and hoped he would be released "as soon as possible".

PARIS, Aug 16 (AFP) - France said Tuesday it had information about a French television soundman who was abducted in the Gaza Strip on the weekend and hoped he would be released "as soon as possible".

Mohamed Ouathi, a sound technician for the public France 3 television network, was seized at gunpoint by three masked men and bundled into a waiting car outside his hotel in Gaza City late Sunday.

The other members of the France 3 crew -- a woman reporter, a cameraman and a video editor -- were with him at the time but were not taken.

"We have certain information and indications. We hope that we will obtain the release of Mr. Ouathi as soon as possible," French foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told journalists in Paris.

"I don't have any details to give you because, as is normal in this sort of matter, a certain discretion is needed," he said, adding that French officials were "on the ground" working for Ouathi's release.

The French government has issued a call for Ouathi to be freed immediately.

According to French media, no demand has been received by Ouathi's kidnappers.

The soundman is aged in his 50s, speaks Arabic and is of north African background.

He was part of a large contingent of international media in Gaza to cover tensions related to Israel's withdrawal from that Palestinian territory.

His abduction was the latest in a series of kidnappings that have occurred recently in Gaza, and it came just three days after Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas ordered security services to protect foreign workers in the Gaza Strip.

Unsettled by the trend, the United Nations has recalled all non-essential foreign staff from the Gaza Strip until further notice.

On Monday, Palestinian security services said they had still received no information about Ouathi.

"We have no news about him and we still do not know who was responsible for the abduction, which no one has claimed," a security services spokesman said. "The security services will continue to hunt for them," he added.

Palestinian leader Abbas Monday condemned the kidnapping.

"We do not tolerate such acts of anarchy committed by certain people. The kidnappers will be punished most severely and we will bring them to justice wherever they are," Abbas told reporters.

The Palestinian Journalists Union likewise condemned the abduction, calling it a "cowardly act" that harms the Palestinian cause.

The kidnappings have been extremely embarrassing for the Palestinian Authority which is trying to prove it can keep law and order after Israel completes its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip after a 38-year occupation.

Copyright AFP


Subject: French news, Gaza, Palestine, terrorism, kidnapping, Ouathi, Mahmud Abbas


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