Abbas condemns kidnapping of Italian activist

PA president calls for immediate release of man held by al Qaida-aligned Jihadist group in Gaza; says move doesn't serve Palestinian nation.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
April 15, 2011 02:01
1 minute read.
Hamas terrorists at a press conference.

Hamas terrorists 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the kidnapping of an Italian rights activist in the Gaza Strip by a terrorist group and called for his immediate release, in a statement overnight Thursday.

A Jihadist group in Gaza aligned with al Qaida threatened on Thursday to execute Vittorio Arrigoni who it is holding within hours, unless Hamas Islamists release the group's leader.

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Abbas called for Vittorio's "immediate release without conditions. The move does not serve the justification of the Palestinian nation, but harms it," Abbas added.

A You Tube clip the group posted on Thursday said the man they were holding, Vittorio Arrigoni, would be killed on Friday at 5 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) unless Hamas releases Hesham al-Sa'eedni, whom it detained last month.

"If our demands are not met within 30 hours the captive will be executed when the period is over," a text on the video clip said.



Arrigoni, an Italian pacifist and blogger, has lived in the Gaza Strip for some time. He was shown blindfolded with blood around his right eye and a hand can be seen pulling his head up by his hair to face the camera.

A spokesman for the Hamas interior ministry in Gaza City said it was investigating the abduction.

It was unclear when Arrigoni was kidnapped or where he was being held, but an Italian diplomat who serves in the region confirmed to Reuters he had been abducted.

The Arabic text that accompanied the footage of Arrigoni also said "the Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption" and it described Italy as "the infidel state".

Arrigoni is the first foreign national to be abducted in the Gaza Strip since BBC journalist Alan Johnston, who was held for 114 days by an al Qaida-inspired clan group named the Army of Islam. He was released in 2007.

Arrigoni came to the Gaza Strip on a boat bringing humanitarian supplies in 2008.

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