Palestinian gunmen abduct Italian journalist in Gaza town

Masked gunmen abducted an Italian journalist in the Gaza Strip town of Deir El-Balah on Saturday, but released him unharmed about four hours later, Palestinian security officials said.

Witnesses said the gunmen stopped the car of Lorenzo Cremonesi of the Corriere della Sera daily and forced him into their vehicle.

There was no claim of responsibility.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have abducted several foreigners for use as bargaining chips in local feuds. All hostages have been released unharmed after a few hours.

The kidnapping came just days before the last Israeli troops are to vacate the coastal strip, and was further testimony to the lawlessness gripping the area ahead of the pullout.

Earlier in the day, at least 60 armed Palestinians seized two Palestinian government buildings in the town, demanding jobs with the Palestinian Authority, witnesses said, AP reported.

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