EU urges release of Israeli soldier held hostage in Gaza

Austria holds the rotating EU presidency and it issued a statement calling for the soldier's "immediate and unconditional release."

It urged "the Palestinian leadership to undertake all necessary efforts in this regard."

Cpl. Gilad Shalit was abducted Sunday in southern Gaza. The militants who seized him have demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails in exchange for information about him, the AP reports.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli tanks and troops entered southern Gaza and planes attacked three bridges and a power station to step up the pressure on the militants holding the 19-year-old captive, the AP reports.

In the statement, the EU also urged all parties to show restraint and to "avoid further escalation."

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