A previously unknown Palestinian group on Friday claimed responsibility for the abduction of an Egyptian diplomat in the Gaza Strip, and demanded the release of Palestinian criminals held in Egyptian jails. A group calling itself the Al Ahrar Brigades, whose name means "the liberated people" in Arabic, warned that the Egyptian government would have to "shoulder the unfortunate consequences" if the prisoners were not released within 48 hours. It did not elaborate. The authenticity of the statement, first obtained by the Al-Jazeera satellite channel in Gaza City, could not be verified. Major militias in Gaza, including those who have carried out other kidnappings in recent months, have condemned Thursday's abduction.