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Oct 24, 2006 at 04:14pm IST

Palestinian gunmen kidnap AP lensman

Jerusalem: Palestinian gunmen kidnapped a Spanish photographer working for the Associated Press news agency in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday (October 24), the news agency said.

Citing one of its drivers who witnessed the incident, the Associated Press (AP) said photographer Emilio Morenatti, 37, was heading out of his apartment to a company vehicle when four gunmen grabbed him, put him in another vehicle and drove away.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

PHOTOGRAPHER KIDNAPPED: AP said Morenatti had worked for AP in Jerusalem since 2005.

Palestinian policemen deployed across the streets of the town of Khan Younis, searching vehicles and checking permits.

The ruling Hamas party condemned the abduction.

"We condemn such criminal action. This action distorts our picture in the world and we will do our best effort in order to release the captured photographer with cooperation of the security forces in Gaza and we hope now to find him very very quickly," said Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas spokesman.

AP said Morenatti, from Jerez, Spain, had worked for the news agency in Jerusalem since 2005.

Earlier this month, unknown gunmen kidnapped a US student volunteer in the West Bank but released him within hours.

Two journalists working for the US Fox News channel were abducted in the Gaza Strip in August. They were held by militants for two weeks before being freed.

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