BBC reporter dead, says militant group
A previously unknown Palestinian militant group last night claimed that it had killed the BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza more than a month ago.
The group, calling itself the Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad, said that its demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails had been ignored. The BBC and the Palestinian Government are treating the claim with suspicion.
Group claims BBC reporter killed
In a statement sent to news organisations on Sunday, "The Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad" said that it killed Alan Johnston, the BBC's Gaza correspondent, to support demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
However, the BBC and the Palestinian government both said there was no evidence to back up the claim.
"The BBC is aware of these reports," the corporation said in a statement. "But we have no independent verification of them."
The group claiming to have killed him is unknown in Gaza, but the name has been used elsewhere in the Middle East by organisations linked to al-Qaeda.
"This party that issued the statement about the so-called killing is unknown to the security services," Hani Kawasmeh, the Palestinian interior minister, told a news conference in Gaza City.
"There is no information to confirm the killing of Johnston until now."
Johnston was snatched at gunpoint in Gaza City on March 12. Since then there had been no demands from his captors or any word on his condition.
He has been missing longer than any other foreigner kidnapped in Gaza.
The only foreign reporter still based in Gaza, he was snatched just weeks before he was scheduled to end his three-year stint there. Other news organisations withdrew their foreign-born reporters because of the deteriorating security situation there.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/04/claim-gaza-terror-group-killed-bbc.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.