Day of kidnappings in Gaza Strip
Palestinian police chief Ghazi Jabali was held for several hours by gunmen who kidnapped him south of Gaza City, in an attack which left two of his bodyguards injured, witnesses and hospital sources said.
An announcement over loudspeakers in the Breij refugee camp, south of Gaza City, said the abduction had been carried out by the Jenin Martyrs' Brigades.
This group is an offshoot of the larger Popular Resistance Committees, whose members are mainly former activists of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. Breij residents said a Fatah delegation had arrived in the refugee camp to negotiate Jabali's release. Later, Palestinian officials said they have reached an agreement for his release.
According to AFP, witnesses said the police chief was driving in a three-car convoy along Gaza Strip's coastal highway when a group of armed men fired in his direction and abducted him.
The kidnappers were heard shouting in Arabic twice: "We kidnapped Jabali", before driving into the Breij refugee camp.
Police later set up checkpoints along the highway where they stopped and searched every car, the witnesses said.
Jabali has long been on Israel's wanted list over alleged involvement in anti-Israeli attacks. The Israeli army denied involvement in the kidnapping. Israel Radio said Jabali was kidnapped because he had refused to enlist new Palestinian policemen from the Bureij camp.
Late Friday, five French citizens were also kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said. The officials said the two women and three men were abducted by gunmen as they drank coffee in the southern town of Khan Younis.
Witnesses said the five were taken to the headquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in the center of the town and the building was surrounded by about 25 policemen.
Earlier Friday, Col. Khaled Abu Aloula, director of military coordination in the southern part of the Strip was taken from his car as he returned to Gaza City from Khan Younis.
Palestinian security officials said the kidnappers were Palestinian policemen who had recently been fired from their jobs. The officials said that earlier in the day Aloula had refused their request to help reinstate them.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)