Italian national kidnapped in Gaza 15Apr11 April 15, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  15 April 2011

Salafist radicals in Gaza have kidnapped an Italian citizen and are threatening to kill him, a video posted Thursday by the “Salafi Jihadi” group warned.

The footage shows Vittorio Arrigoni bruised and blindfolded. Text scrolling across the screen threatens that he will die unless Hamas releases Salafist prisoners by 5 p.m. Friday.

Arrigoni was in Gaza working with the International Solidarity Movement, Palestinian associates of the activist said. They confirmed to Ma’an that the footage showed their colleague. He was last seen late Wednesday at a building popular among internationals in the port area of Gaza City, an ISM worker said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Hamas government which controls Gaza. Its security forces have in recent years taken a hard line against Salafi activists in the enclave.

ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf said the government was “working hard to secure his release.”

Arrigoni holds honorary citizenship for his work in the occupied territories, and “is a hero of Palestine,” Khalil Shaheen of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said in an ISM statement.

Shaheen called on the government and security forces to guarantee Arrigoni’s safety and release.

Palestinians were planning to meet in Gaza City’s central Jundi square on Friday at 4 p.m. The protest will demand Arrigoni’s immediate release, the Gaza Youth Breaks Out group said.

“Gaza people won’t let you down Vittorio,” the group wrote on its Twitter and Facebook pages.

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