Hamas begins to use force to release Alan Johnston

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Alan Johnston in an undated BBC photo

Hamas has begun to use force to release captured BBC news reporter Alan Johnston. Hamas also plans to release ten of its soldiers who were captured on Monday.

Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza City on March 12, and has since been kept in captivity by a group calling itself The Army of Islam. Despite mounting diplomatic pressure from Hamas and the British Government, Johnston has not yet been released.

The actions by Hamas come after reports that The Army of Islam planned to capture more journalists in order to strengthen their position, bargaining for the release of Iraqi Sajeda Rishawi, imprisoned in Jordan.

Hamas' armed division is reported to have surrounded the neighbourhood of Sabra in Gaza, taking control of the suburb. The Army of Islam has threatened to kill Johnston should any rescue attempt be made using force. One civilian fatality has been reported as a result of the fighting between Hamas militants and The Army of Islam.

However, a spokesperson for Hamas said, "This operation is not aimed at freeing Johnston," suggesting the primary objective is freeing its own men.


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