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Gaza militants kidnap at least 4 foreigners

Written by: Staff

GAZA, Mar 14 (Reuters) Palestinian militants kidnapped at least four foreigners in Gaza TOday in response to Israel's storming of a West Bank jail, witnesses and officials said.

The French Foreign Ministry in Paris said two French nationals were seized. A receptionist at the Dira hotel in Gaza confirmed the abductions and said a Korean national was also taken.

Earlier, gunmen kidnapped a Red Cross official believed to be from Switzerland from his office, a Red Cross staffer said.

Palestinian security sources and witnesses said the militants involved in the abductions belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Israeli forces blasted their way into a prison in the West Bank town of Jericho to try to seize PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat and five other militants from the group.

They have been held under foreign supervision at the facility for the past four years, accused by Israel of involvement in the killing an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was prepared to free the men. U.S. and British officials said the monitors were pulled out of the prison because of the failure of the Palestinians to carry out security improvements.

Gunmen angered by the Israeli raid stormed into various locations in Gaza City seeking to seize foreigners. Security officials said police have been instructed to open fire to prevent kidnappings.

Reuters SI DB2119

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