GAZA, (Reuters) – An Egyptian diplomat kidnapped earlier this week by gunmen in Gaza was released unharmed on Saturday, an Egyptian official in Gaza said.
Egyptian military attache Hussam al-Musli was abducted on Thursday after gunmen shot at his car and forced him to stop.
A previously unknown militant group, calling itself the Free Men Brigades, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, demanding the release of all Palestinians held in Egyptian prisons.
“We are releasing him (Musli) today to stress that we are seekers of right and freedom, and we have no desire to harm any of our Egyptian brothers,” the Free Men Brigades said in a statement.
The group said it would continue to press its demands for a “speedy release of all Palestinian prisoners in Egyptian jails and we reserve our right to use all means to get them freed”.
Gaza has seen a rash of kidnappings since Israel’s pullout in September, but Musli was the first diplomat to be seized.
Many of the details surrounding Musli’s release remain unclear.
An Egyptian official in Gaza would only say: “He’s released and unharmed.”
A Palestinian security source said he was freed by his captors at a mosque in Gaza City.
Foreigners have often been abducted by Gaza gunmen with gripes against the Palestinian government and have usually been released within hours or days.
Scores of Palestinians, including many militants, are being held in Egyptian prisons without trial.
Egyptian security men detained dozens of Palestinians in January when they stormed the Gaza border, which Israel gave up territorial control of after it pulled out, in protest of the arrest of a militant leader by Palestinian police.
In a statement on Friday, the Free Men Brigades said the kidnapping was “only a first step” and that Egypt should “bear full responsibility for the tragic consequences that may result”. The group did not elaborate.