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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 22:46 GMT
German kidnapped in W Bank freed
Christoph Kasten with Palestinian police officers
Kasten was freed soon after being kidnapped
A German citizen kidnapped by gunmen from a hotel in the West Bank city of Nablus has been released.

There are conflicting reports as to whether Christoph Kasten was handed over by his kidnappers to police, or was freed by security forces.

It was not clear whether the abduction was linked to the row over publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Western newspapers.

Militants in Gaza had earlier threatened to kidnap Westerners.

Palestinian gunmen also briefly surrounded EU offices in Gaza to demand an apology over the cartoons.

Protests

A hotel worker in Nablus told AFP news agency Mr Kasten had been sitting with a group of Palestinians when gunmen entered and took him away without a struggle.

He is with us - he is safe, he is fine
Palestinian security official

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militant group said he was later handed over to police.

However, security officials told the AP news agency that police had found four kidnappers and Mr Kasten.

Police arrested two kidnappers and freed Mr Kasten, the officials said.

The incident comes amid protests in many Muslim countries and communities over the publication of the cartoons of the Prophet in European newspapers.

Islamic tradition bans depictions of the Prophet or Allah.



SEE ALSO:
In quotes: Reaction to cartoons
02 Feb 06 |  Middle East



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