The Palestinian National Security Council declared a state of emergency in the Gaza Strip early Saturday following a spate of kidnappings of Palestinian officials and French citizens on Friday.
The declaration called for increased protection around Palestinian government buildings and cancelled all leave for security officials.
The statement came in the early hours of Saturday, shortly after gunmen released four French nationals and a Palestinian colleague they had been holding hostage in the southern town of Khan Yunis.
Abu Qusai, leader of the group which kidnapped the civilians, told Reuters the hostages were freed after intervention by Arafat, UN officials and the French consulate in Jerusalem.
Palestinian security officials said that the kidnapping was carried out by the Abu al-Rish Brigades, linked to Fatah.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian security official said the preventive security chief in Gaza Strip, Rashid Abu Shbek, and the head of Palestinian general intelligence, Amin al Hindi, had submitted their resignations to President Arafat "because of the state of chaos and the lack of action by the Palestinian Authority to make reforms."
It was unclear if Arafat had accepted the resignations. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)