(LIP-wb) — Sixteen militants of the rival Palestinian Hamas and Fatah movements who were captured in a mutual kidnapping spree Monday night in northern Gaza have been released, local media reported.
But Peruvian journalist and photographer Jaime Razuri (50) who is working for Agence France-Presse (AFP), is still being held captive. He was taken hostage near the offices of his news agency and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction of the journalist.
According to Razuri’s Palestinian translator, five gunmen forced him into a car and took off.
The union of foreign journalists in Israel and Palestine issued a statement appealing "to all parties in Gaza to bring about the speedy and safe return of our colleague and friend."
"We utterly condemn the continued harassment of journalists in this way," a statement by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) said.
Luis Jaime Cisneros, AFP correspondent in Lima, said he trusts that his colleague will be released in the next hours.
“Based on previous similar incidents, we can expect that he will be released within the next hours and Jaime can return home to Lima", Cisneros told Peruvian radio station RPP. He added that kidnappings in Gaza are not as bloody as those that happen in Iraq.
The kidnappings set off gun battles between the factions that wounded three Palestinians caught in the cross-fire, including a boy, Palestinian rescue workers said.
Hamas and Fatah declared a truce on Dec. 17 to end weeks of deadly violence, which intensified after Palestinian president and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas called for early legislative elections. Hamas condemned the move as a coup attempt to oust it from power.
“Palestine has a government formed by two groups. We have spoken with officials of both movements and they assured us that the photographer is not being held captive by them”, Cisneros said.
Jaime Razuri is recognized in Peru and internationally for his professional work during the time of internal conflict (1980-2000) and his coverage from Iraq, Haiti and Palestine, among others.