Palestinian president condemns killing of hostage

13:11, April 16, 2011      

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Friday condemned the kidnapping and killing of an Italian peace activist in the Gaza Strip, where his rival the Hamas movement holds sway.

Abbas described the killing of Vittorio Arrigoni as "awkward and ugly crime," adding that such act does not represent the Palestinian people.

In a statement published on Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, Abbas said that Arrigoni was a supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Sources from the Hamas security said that the Italian activist was found dead in a deserted house in Gaza City hours after a Jihadist Muslim group issued a video showing Arrigoni taken hostage.

The kidnappers killed the hostage before a deadline they set for the Hamas to release imprisoned Jihadists expired.

A Hamas police officer said that two of the suspected kidnappers were arrested. He added that one of the suspects held Jordanian papers and a forged Palestinian identity card. Police is hunting down other suspects.

Forces from the Hamas headed to the place where the hostage is held but found out that the kidnapped had been killed "in a horrible way hours earlier," a statement by the Interior Ministry said.

In the video, a group calling itself Al-Tawheed and Al-Jihad called on the Hamas to release the leader of the group within 30 hours starting from Thursday, 0900 GMT.

It threatened to execute the hostage if the Hamas did not release the prisoners, but Arrigoni was executed hours before the end of the ultimatum.

Arrigoni came to Gaza on the first ships that challenged an Israeli blockade on Gaza in 2008. That activist is known to Gazans as "Victor."

The Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, launched several crackdowns on supporters and members of Salafi groups, which follow more hardliner conception of Islam than Hamas.

It is the first incident in which a foreigner is kidnapped under Hamas' rule.

Source: Xinhua

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