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Palestinian captors free photographer

October 25, 2006|From a Times Staff Writer

JERUSALEM — Palestinian gunmen Tuesday abducted an Associated Press photographer in the Gaza Strip and held him for nearly 13 hours before yielding to demands from Palestinian Authority leaders for his release.

Emilio Morenatti, a 37-year-old Spaniard, was seized outside his apartment building, pushed into a white Volkswagen and driven away.

No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping in Gaza City. The circumstances of his release were unclear after he resurfaced, fatigued but unharmed, at the Gaza office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Morenatti told reporters from his agency that masked kidnappers had put a bag over his head, kept him in a room for several hours and later bundled him into a car, "dressed up as a woman, as a woman in a long veil."

"There were very anguished moments," he said.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said his government knew who the kidnappers were and would prosecute them. He did not elaborate, but Palestinian officials said the kidnappers were common criminals.

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