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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 18:46 GMT
Search continues for BBC reporter
Alan Johnston
Johnston has been the BBC's reporter in Gaza for three years
The BBC is continuing to try to locate its Gaza Strip correspondent, Alan Johnston, who has gone missing.

The corporation said it was working closely with Palestinian authorities to try to establish what happened to him.

A BBC News team met Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya but the corporation says it still has no confirmation of Johnston's whereabouts.

Johnston's car was found abandoned in Gaza City shortly after he left his office to drive home on Monday.

Details of what happened are sketchy. Palestinian police said four gunmen were seen in the vicinity of where Johnston's car was found.

The corporation has not commented on Palestinian reports that he had been kidnapped.

Several journalists and aid workers have recently been kidnapped in Gaza. All have been released unharmed.

Johnston, 44, has been the BBC's correspondent in the Gaza Strip for the past three years - and the only foreign journalist from a major media organisation based in Gaza.

The BBC said it was keeping Johnston's family fully informed of developments.

Kidnapping rife

Most news organisations have pulled their staff out of Gaza in recent years, as violence between rival factions has spiralled and crime and lawlessness has increased.

A Peruvian photographer was kidnapped in January and held for a week, while in October a photographer for the Associated Press was held for 15 hours.

ALAN GRAHAM JOHNSTON
Born in Lindi, Tanzania, on 17 May 1962
Graduated with an MA in English and Politics from Dundee University, Scotland, and a diploma in Journalism Studies from the University of Wales in Cardiff
Joined the BBC World Service in 1991. He has been a correspondent in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Gaza

A team from Fox News were abducted last summer and filmed by their kidnappers during a two-week ordeal.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents foreign journalists in Israel and the Palestinian areas, issued an appeal, saying: "We ask all in Gaza to respect the rights and safety of the press."

Both the main Palestinian factions called for Johnston's release.

Palestinian Interior Minister Sayeed Sayyam, of the Hamas organisation, called his apparent abduction a "criminal act".

Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, declared a state of emergency and set up checkpoints to search for the reporter.

Palestinian government spokesman Ghazi Hamad said the apparent abduction was a "brutal and criminal action, and a shameful action, done by irresponsible people who are trying to create more tension in our society".

Three-year posting

The BBC described Johnston as a "highly experienced and respected reporter".

"It is his job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament in the Gaza Strip," said the BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Paul Adams, himself a former Middle East reporter.

Alan Johnston was born in Tanzania and educated in Scotland. He joined the BBC World Service in 1991 and has spent eight of the last 16 years as a correspondent, including periods in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

He became Gaza correspondent in April 2004 and his posting was due to come to an end at the end of next month.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage of Alan Johnston reporting in Gaza



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