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Peaceful ways to free BBC journalist run into deadlock: Hamas
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18:38, July 03, 2007

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The sacked Hamas government said on Tuesday that peaceful ways to free BBC reporter Alan Johnston who is being held hostage in Gaza City have reached a dead end.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom told reporters in Gaza that his movement has decided to "end the phenomenon of the Army of Islam," captors of Johnston which is also committed to murder and kidnapping crimes against the Palestinian families and other foreign journalists.

"The Army of Islam is an armed militia which tries to justify their criminal actions by Islam," he said.

The remarks came as Hamas militants reinforced presence around the Sabra neighborhood where Alan Johnston was believed to be held.
Witnesses in southern Gaza City said that Hamas has installed checkpoints and snipers in the area.

Hamas also inspected the identity cards of the people in the area and arrest anyone which was suspicious, they said.
A radical group calling itself the Army of Islam claimed responsibility for kidnapping Johnston on March 12 and demanded the Britain free al-Qaida leaders in exchange for the reporter.

Over the past two days, the executive forces of Hamas, which seized control of Gaza Strip last month, traded kidnappings with the Army of Islam and members of Doghmoush clan which provides refuge for Johnston's kidnappers.

"We have arrested some persons involved in kidnapping the journalist," the executive forces said in a statement issued in the day. It also called on the people to report any information about Johnston to Hamas representatives.

Source: Xinhua



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