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Abducted BBC man : Don't rescue me

Story Highlights

• In video Alan Johnston tells British, Hamas not to attempt to rescue him
• Kidnapped reporter appears to wear explosives-packed vest
• BBC reporter Johnston kidnapped March 12 in Gaza City
• Abductors have claimed to be Army of Islam
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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Clad in what appeared to be an explosive vest, kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston warned in a new video that his captors would turn their hideout into a "death zone" if any rescue attempt is made.

Although it was unclear when the clip -- posted on a Web site Sunday -- was made, Johnston appeared to refer to developments earlier this month in Gaza, where Palestinian Islamic group Hamas wrested control from its Fatah rivals and then pledged to secure the reporter's release.

"I do appeal to the Hamas movement and the British government not -- not -- to resort to the tactics of force in an effort to end this," Johnston said.

"My captors tell me that very promising negotiations were ruined when the Hamas movement and the British government decided to press for a military solution to this kidnapping, and the situation is now very serious," he said.

Johnston, was kidnapped March 12 by a group calling itself the Army of Islam, just weeks before he was due to end his three-year posting in the territory.

Sunday's video showed the journalist standing before a black background, wearing a long-sleeved red shirt beneath what appeared to be an explosive vest.

"The situation now is very serious. As you can see I have been dressed in what is an explosive belt, which the kidnappers say will be detonated if there was any attempt to storm this area," he said.

Johnston urged British and Palestinian officials to resume negotiations, adding, "They're willing to turn the hideout into what they described as a 'death zone' if there's an attempt to free me by force."

There was no immediate reaction to the scene from Hamas but the British Foreign Office and the BBC criticized the video.

"It is very distressing for Alan's family and colleagues to see him being threatened in this way," the network said in a statement issued early Monday, echoing comments by the Foreign Office.

"We ask those holding Alan to avoid him being harmed by releasing him immediately. We are keeping his family fully informed and offering them our continued support."

The reporter's father, Graham Johnston, responded by urging his son's release.

"My family and I are obviously most concerned and distressed at this latest development," he said in a statement.

"Our thoughts, of course, are with Alan in his present predicament. We earnestly request his abductors to release Alan unharmed in any way."

Johnston's captors are demanding the release of a Jordanian-born Muslim cleric held in Britain on suspicion of links to terrorist organizations, along with other prisoners held by what they call infidel states.

There was no immediate reaction to the video from the BBC, Hamas or the British Foreign Office.

Johnston, 45, from Scotland, joined the BBC World Service in 1991. In a video released in early June, he said he was being treated well and was in good health.

He is one of 15 journalists abducted in Gaza since 2004, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. All the others were released unharmed, usually within days of their abductions.

Little is know about the Army of Islam, which also claimed to have taken part in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli army Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

Despite Israeli incursions and airstrikes into Gaza aimed at freeing him, Shalit is believed to remain in captivity.


In a video posted on a Web site Sunday kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston wears an apparent explosives belt of the type suicide bombers use.



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