BBC reporter kidnapped in Gaza

A BBC TV reporter has been kidnapped in the central Gaza Strip, a senior Palestinian security official has said.

Palestinian
security officials said four armed men in a white Subaru kidnapped a
reporter who threw a business card on the street that identified him as
Alan Johnston of the BBC.

BBC Jerusalem bureau chief Simon Wilson
said his news network had lost contact with Johnston but he could not
immediately confirm a kidnapping.

A statement from BBC News said:
"We are aware of reports concerning the whereabouts of BBC Gaza
Correspondent Alan Johnston. We are currently unable to contact him and
are concerned for his safety. We are trying to gather as much
information as possible."

Palestinian security sources said a car
was found abandoned near Johnston's Gaza City apartment. Police found
the lease of the rental car, which stated the vehicle was rented to the
BBC.

Johnston, from Scotland, had been reporting from Gaza
for the past three years. He joined the BBC in 1991 as sub editor on
BBC World Service, before becoming the BBC's Correspondent in Tashkent
from 1993-1995. He was the BBC Kabul Correspondent from 1997 to 1998.
He returned to London and the BBC World Service to be a programme
editor of "The World Today" and then a general reporter in the BBC
World Service Newsroom.

His posting to Gaza as BBC
Correspondent began in April 2004, where he has worked for all BBC
outlets in both radio and television.
The BBC said Johnston is due to return to London at the end of April
2007. The NUJ has called for the immediate release of Johnston, an NUJ
member.

The
Union is asking its sister union the Palestine Journalists’ Syndicate
for any information or assistance they can give in helping to resolve
the situation.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Our
sympathy goes to Alan’s family and friends at this extremely worrying
time. “It is absolutely unacceptable for a journalist attempting to do
his job to be snatched on the street and taken away. He must be
released without delay.”

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