BBC’s Johnston freed


BBC correspondent Alan Johnston was freed after almost four months of captivity in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas officials secured the release of Johnston early Wednesday following intensive negotiations with his captors, a little-known Palestinian militia called Army of Islam. It was not immediately known whether a ransom was paid.

Johnston, 45, told reporters that while he was mostly treated well while hostage, there had been occasional threats on his life. He said he did not expect to return to Gaza soon. Before his March 12 kidnapping, Johnston had been the only Western journalist based full-time in the territory.

Hamas said it hoped that by freeing the reporter it could improve its ties with the West. The rival Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of a media stunt.

Jerusalem officials welcomed Johnston’s release, and called for the Palestinians also to free  Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted to Gaza last year by gunmen from Hamas, Army of Islam, and another militia.

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