Palestinian university professor kidnapped from West Bank home by gunmen

A Palestinian university professor known as a Hamas leader was kidnapped from his West Bank home late Thursday by four Arabic-speaking gunmen, his wife said.

She said the gunmen, firing in the air, pounded on the door of their home in the town of Tulkarem, and then escaped with her husband, Prof. Riad Abdel Karim al-Raz, 47, head of the engineering department at A-Najah University in Nablus, AP reports.

Karim is a political leader of the violent Islamic Hamas, according to Palestinians in the area. Palestinians said the kidnapping appeared to be an internal matter. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to the ruling Fatah movement, denied knowledge of the incident.

Kidnappings among rival Palestinian groups have been on the increase in recent months as well, as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to restore law and order have achieved only partial success. Tulkarem, next to the line between the West Bank and Israel, is under Palestinian control, but Israeli forces often operate there, arresting suspected militants. The Israeli military said it had nothing to do with this abduction.

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