Abducted Italian activist found dead in Gaza - media

Arab World Materials 15 April 2011 08:07 (UTC +04:00)

An Italian activist, who was abducted by an extremist group in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, was found dead on Friday, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

In a video, posted on YouTube, a previously unknown Salafist group assumed responsibility for the abduction of blogger and activist of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement Vittorio Arrigoni, RIA Novosti reported.

The 36-year-old man was shown blindfolded, with hands tied behind his back and blood on the face. The prisoner was held roughly by the hair by one of his abductors, with only an outstretched arm of his captor visible.

The group, which identified itself as Mohammed Bin Moslama Brigade, demanded the release of fellow Salafists from Gaza prisons, including a prominent Islamist leader Sheikh al-Saidani (also known as Abu Walid al-Maqdisi). They threatened to kill the hostage if their demands are not met within 30 hours, starting from noon Moscow time on Thursday.

Germany's DPA agency said, citing a Hamas police source, that Arrigoni was strangled three hours after his abduction, when police stormed the house where the activist had been kept.

Two suspected abductors have been arrested, the third one fled and is now being searched.

This is the first abduction of a foreign national in Gaza in the past three years. The last foreign national to be abducted in the coastal enclave was BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in March 2007 and released after some four months in captivity.