Australian minister condemns kidnapping in Gaza

Australia's foreign minister has condemned the brief kidnapping of a Dutch school principal and his Australian deputy Wednesday by Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip. "Kidnapping is absolutely abhorrent," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. The armed men stopped the educators' car and bundled them into another vehicle, witnesses said. A claim of responsibility, faxed to The Associated Press, called for the release of Ahmed Saadat, a leader of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who is held under foreign supervision in a Palestinian prison in the West Bank town of Jericho. Saadat is serving time for masterminding the assassination of Israeli Cabinet minister, Rehavam Zeevi, in 2001. The abductors released the principal, Hendrik Taatgen, and Australian, Brian Ambrosio, after Palestinian police located them. The educators were dropped off at a coordinated point near Gaza City, where Palestinian lawmaker Kamel Sharafi, who served as mediator, picked them up and drove them to the office of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.