Negotiations 'under way to free kidnapped Britons'

Palestinian security forces are negotiating with the gunmen who kidnapped a British woman and her parents as they entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt, a security official said today.

The official, speaking anonymously as he was not authorised to talk to the media, would not say when he thought the captives would be released nor give further details.

Recent kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza have ended without bloodshed and with the hostages being released unharmed.

The abduction yesterday of human rights worker Kate Burton, from Scotland, and her parents was the latest of several kidnappings that have undermined Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ attempts to establish order in the coastal strip following Israel’s withdrawal this summer.

In most abductions in Gaza, the kidnappers are seeking jobs in the Palestinian security forces, the release of imprisoned relatives or other personal matters.

Abbas’ critics have accused him of giving in to kidnappers’ demands, thereby encouraging more abductions.

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