August 23, 2006

Gaza group claims kidnapping of Fox journalists

GAZA (Reuters) - A previously unknown militant group in
Gaza claimed responsibility on Wednesday for the kidnapping
nine days ago of two Fox journalists and demanded the United
States release "Muslim prisoners" within 72 hours.

"Release what you have, and we will release what we have,"
the "Holy Jihad Brigades" said in a statement obtained by

Fox News Channel correspondent Steve Centanni and cameraman
Olaf Wiig were abducted by masked gunmen in Gaza City on Aug 14
as they were working on a story.

The group did not say what would happen to the two
journalists if the United States did not meet their demand to
release Muslims in American prisons by the time the deadline
expires on Saturday.

"If you implement our conditions we will implement our
promise, otherwise you will have to wait," the statement said.

There has been no word on the condition of the journalists
since they were seized.

Until Wednesday's statement, which contained verses from
the Koran, no one had claimed responsibility for the abduction,
which is now the longest-lasting in Gaza for more than a year.

Previous kidnappings, and there have been at least seven
involving foreigners since August 2005, when Israeli troops
withdraw from Gaza after 38 years of occupation, have usually
ended after a few hours, or at most a few days, of captivity.