Palestinian President  says a kidnapped British journalist is still alive after a militant group claimed to have killed him.

Mr. Abbas said Thursday during a visit to Sweden that his intelligence sources confirm Alan Johnston is alive. He repeated assurances that he is working for Johnston's release.

A previously unknown group, The Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad, said Sunday it had executed Johnston, but did not provide any proof.

He was the only Western reporter permanently based in the Gaza Strip when he was abducted on March 12.

On Wednesday, imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti joined in appeals for Johnston's immediate release. In a statement from an Israeli jail, he called the journalist "a friend of the Palestinian people."

The group that claimed to have killed Johnston cited Israel's refusal to release Palestinian prisoners as the reason for his execution.

Palestinian journalists have been staging protests in recent weeks in support of Johnston.

Several journalists and aid workers have been kidnapped in Gaza in recent months. Most have been released within hours or days.

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