Abbas confirms British journalist alive

Says PA government in contact with the British authorities on the case.

alan johnston 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
alan johnston 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeated Friday that a British journalist kidnapped in Gaza is alive and said his government was in contact with the British authorities on the case. Alan Johnston, 44, a British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent, has not been seen or heard from since he was abducted by gunmen in Gaza City on March 12. "We are maintaining a steady contact with Britain's Foreign Office on the matter," Abbas told reporters in Sofia. "I cannot, however, provide more details because of the security of the British journalist," Abbas added. Asked whether the Palestinian authorities were capable of countering such acts, Abbas complained of serious security problems because of the "deliberately destroyed infrastructure." "This has allowed several similar incidents to happen in recent months," Abbas said. "Due to our adequate reaction, however, some of the kidnapped have been released." On Thursday, Abbas said he knew which group was holding Johnston, but would not say whether any contact had been established with the captors. On Sunday, a previously unknown group, the Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad, said it had killed Johnston to support demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. There has been no confirmation of the claim.