Two French freed in Gaza, two others still captive

14th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 14, 2006 (AFP) - Two French charity workers taken hostage in the Gaza Strip were freed on Tuesday evening but two French journalists seized in a separate incident in Gaza were still being held captive, sparking protests from the government in Paris.

PARIS, March 14, 2006 (AFP) - Two French charity workers taken hostage in the Gaza Strip were freed on Tuesday evening but two French journalists seized in a separate incident in Gaza were still being held captive, sparking protests from the government in Paris.

"The two French workers with MDM have been freed. They are safe," a government official told AFP, without giving details.

The two women, who were working for medical charity Médecins du Monde (MDM), were among at least eight foreigners who were abducted in various incidents in the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday in response to an Israeli army raid on a prison in the West Bank town of Jericho.

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy responded by demanding the "immediate release" of the four French nationals.

"We are deeply concerned by these latest developments in Jericho and in the Palestinian territories," Douste-Blazy added in a statement.

"I appeal to all sides to show restraint and responsibility. We should do everything possible to prevent the Palestinian territories descending into violence.

"Now, more than ever, France hopes for a return to stability and peace in Gaza and the West Bank."

A left-wing militant group close to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) told AFP earlier on Tuesday it had kidnapped the two MDM women to protest against the Israel raid on the prison, where wanted militants were barricaded in.

"We want the Israeli forces to withdraw from the Jericho area and we ask the French government to intervene to protect (PFLP leader) Ahmed Saadat and the other prisoners," a spokesman for the Che Guevara Brigades said.

"It is a message to the whole world and to the French government."

The group then faxed copies of the two women's passports to AFP.

There was no news on Tuesday evening of the whereabouts of Caroline Laurent, a reporter with Elle magazine and Alfred Yaghobzadeh, a photographer with Sipa photo agency, who the French government said had been kidnapped earlier in the day.

"According to eyewitnesses, a group of men stormed the Al-Deirau hotel in the early afternoon and took our journalist, a photographer from Sipa... and a South Korean journalist," Elle magazine confirmed.

Seoul confirmed a correspondent from South Korean broadcaster KBS, Yong Tae-young, had been abducted by armed Palestinians, who had stormed the hotel in the northern beach area of the Gaza Strip.

A KBS cameraman, who was not captured, had later informed the South Korean embassy in Israel of the incident, it added.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas cut short a European tour to return to Ramallah so he could manage the crisis.

Abbas who was in Vienna and then Strasbourg on Tuesday, had been due to address the European Parliament on Wednesday before visiting Brussels and Paris.

"Israel is committing a crime in Jericho," Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told reporters in Strasbourg.

The events would have a negative impact on the Middle East peace process and negotiations with Israel, he warned.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article