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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Gunmen release Gaza police chief
Ghazi Jabali
Jabali is unpopular with Gazans tired of corruption
The Palestinian police chief in Gaza Strip has been released after being abducted by gunmen south of Gaza City.

Witnesses said Ghazi Jabali was travelling in a motorcade on the coastal road when gunmen opened fire and kidnapped him.

Mr Jabali was taken to the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where he was held for several hours.

He was freed after negotiations between Palestinian officials and the Jenin Martyrs' Brigades group holding him.

'Powerful enemies'

Mr Jabali was reportedly held in a house in the refugee camp, where armed and masked militants were said to have manned surrounding rooftops.

A delegation from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction went to the camp to negotiate his release.

The Jenin Martyrs' Brigades - a little known offshoot of the larger Popular Resistance Committees - did not say why it had carried out the abduction.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says it has been clear for some time that Mr Jabali has powerful enemies in Gaza.

Some months ago he was assaulted by militants in his office and soon afterwards there was an attack on one of his homes.

As police chief he has the difficult task of trying to impose order on what is often an unruly society where there are many heavily armed militant factions, our correspondent says.

And, he adds, like a lot of senior officials, Mr Jabali is unpopular with many Gazans who regard the upper echelons of the Palestinian leadership in the Gaza Strip as being tainted by corruption.

The abduction has fuelled concern about competition between rival factions vying for power ahead of a planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.


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