Kidnappers free foreign journalists in Gaza

New York, March 15, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved that Palestinian kidnappers have released French and South Korean journalists abducted in Gaza.

Caroline Laurent, a reporter for the French women’s weekly ELLE, Alfred Yaghobzadeh, a photographer from the photo agency SIPA, and Yong Tae-young, a correspondent for South Korea’s public broadcaster KBS, were taken at the Al-Dira hotel in Gaza by gunmen on Tuesday. All three were released unharmed 22 hours later, according to news reports.

“We welcome the release of our colleagues,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “But we remain alarmed by the rising trend of abductions of journalists by Palestinian militants over the past year.”

Palestinian security services said the kidnappers were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Reuters reported. The abductions came after Israeli forces stormed a prison in the West Bank town of Jericho and seized a PFLP leader, Ahmad Saadat, and five other group members held in connection with the assassination of an Israeli minister.