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Hamas Seizes Leader of Group Holding British Journalist Captive


The Palestinian faction Hamas has seized a leading member of a radical Islamic militant group which claims to be holding kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston.

A top Hamas official says the group's security force detained Army of Islam spokesman, Abu Khatab al-Maqdisi, Monday in Gaza, after he and several other militants opened fire on force members. The official claims the Army of Islam kidnapped 10 Hamas university students after Maqdisi's capture.

Hamas has demanded the release of BBC reporter Johnston, who was abducted on March 12th in Gaza.

Tensions between the Army of Islam and Hamas have mounted since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip last month.

The Army of Islam has threatened to kill Johnston if Britain and other countries do not release certain prisoners.

Hamas officials say they arrested several people involved in the BBC correspondent's kidnapping after the failure of peaceful efforts to free him.

The Army of Islam has posted videos of Johnston on militant web sites.

In related news, Norwegian state media say an Arabic television reporter in the Gaza Strip has taken refuge in Norway after being beaten up and threatened for calling Johnston's kidnappers criminals.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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