Palestinian group claims murder of BBC reporter

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

According to Israeli media reports, a Palestinian group, purportedly linked to al-Qaeda has announced they have killed Alan Johnston, a BBC journalist who went missing in Gaza five weeks ago.

The pronouncement came in the form of an e-mail to the media on Sunday. "We are deeply concerned about what we are hearing, but we stress at this stage, it is rumor with no independent verification," said the BBC.

The Palestinian Jihad and Tawheed Brigades said that it will release a video of the killing, and blamed the killing on the British and Palestinian governments for not heeding its demands to release prisoners detained in Israel.

However, Palestinian interior ministry sources have disputed the claims. "I have been in contact with all the security chiefs since I heard the information. There is no information to confirm the killing of the journalist Johnston," said Hani al-Qawasmi, Palestinian Interior Minister. "At the Interior Ministry we have not received any demands of any kind, whether for ransom or anything else. No party has said it is holding the journalist," said Qawasmi.