Nablus gunmen 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
A prominent Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip was kidnapped on Monday from his radio station by a group of masked gunmen, who released him after several hours unharmed.
Eyewitnesses said at least 15 gunmen stormed the offices of the local Sawt Al-Hurriya (Voice of Freedom) radio station on the 13th floor of the Al-Shurouk Tower in the center of Gaza City and forced the journalist, Salim Abu Amr, to accompany them to an unknown destination.
Abu Amr, who is known to his listeners as Abu Basel, is the host of a popular talk show that is broadcast every morning in the Gaza Strip. Sources in Gaza City described him as a Fatah supporter and a staunch critic of Hamas.
"The gunmen threatened him with their rifles and led him away," said one eyewitness. They took him in a van that was waiting outside the building. They did not give any reason for the kidnapping."
No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. However, Fatah officials said they did not rule out the possibility that Hamas was behind the kidnapping, noting that Abu Amr had been critical of the Hamas-led government and had also allowed listeners to voice their criticism of the Islamic movement.
Palestinian Authority policemen rushed to the scene and erected checkpoints in Gaza City in an attempt to apprehend the kidnappers.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate strongly condemned the kidnapping of Abu Amr, saying it was the latest in a series of assaults on Palestinian journalists and media outlets in the Palestinian territories.
"We reiterate our support for our journalists in the face of this campaign of terror," the syndicate said in a statement. "We urge them to remain steadfast in the face of all assaults on the freedom of expression."
Last week another Palestinian journalist working for the Palestinian Authority's official news agency, Wafa, was severely beaten by masked gunmen who stormed his office in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip and destroyed all the equipment and furniture.
Amr al-Fara, head of Wafa's bureau in Khan Yunis, was taken to hospital with moderate wounds.
"The attackers destroyed all the computers and laptops in the office," said a local reporter. "Before they left, they sprayed graffiti on the wall accusing the agency of not being objective."
Fatah officials accused Hamas of standing behind the attack, noting that Hamas leaders have been inciting against Fatah-affiliated media outlets over the past few months.
Two other Palestinian journalists were severely beaten last week during a demonstration in Gaza City against the Hamas-led government. On Sunday, masked gunmen in Nablus raided the offices of Al-Quds newspaper in the city and confiscated all the copies. The assailants did not give any reason for their action.