Dutchman, Australian freed in Gaza
UPDATED 21 December 2005, AMSTERDAM — Armed Palestinians freed two foreign teachers in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after a brief abduction drama.
UPDATED 21 December 2005
AMSTERDAM — Armed Palestinians freed two foreign teachers in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after a brief abduction drama.
Dutchman Hendrik Taatgen and Australian Brian Ambrosio were bundled from their car as they approached the American International School in Beit Lahiya. They were then forced into another vehicle.
"They were intercepted by between two to three other cars and then taken away," one witness told Reuters. A Palestinian MP told Reuters by mobile phone later on Wednesday that the men had been released into his care. Taatgen is the director of the school, and Ambrosio is the assistant director.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it took the men to pressure the Palestinian Authority into releasing leaders jailed in the West Bank town of Jericho for killing an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001.
The school was established in 1999 and has 33 teachers and 231 pupils, mostly from well-off Palestinian families. The majority of the teachers are foreign.
The pupils were sent home after the incident, which occurred on the final day before the end-of-year holiday.
Such kidnappings are not uncommon in the area, as gunmen try to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority for money, jobs or to win the release of prisoners. Similar abductions are sometimes resolved within hours.
Taatgen wrote a letter to the US Ambassador in Israel at the end of October to complain about the detrimental impact of reprisals by the Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news