The family of the kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston said today they were “most concerned and distressed” by the latest video released by his captors, in which he said he had been dressed in an explosives belt that would be detonated if a rescue attempt was made.
Mr Johnston, 45, appeared exhausted but unhurt in the video, the second to be released by the Army of Islam, a militant group in Gaza. He said negotiations between his kidnappers and Palestinian authorities had been close to success before a breakdown in the talks.
“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,” Mr Johnston said in the short recording. “And the situation is now very serious, as you can see.”
The reporter, who was kidnapped in Gaza City on March 12, was wearing a red jumper and had a blue and white checked pouch strapped across his body, although it was not clear if it was indeed filled with explosives.
“I have been dressed in what is an explosive belt, which the kidnappers say will be detonated if there is an attempt to storm the area,” Mr Johnston said. “They say they are ready to turn the hideout into what they describe as a death zone if there is an attempt to free me by force … It seems the answer is to return to negotiations, which I am told are very close to achieving a deal.”
No, I’m afraid. Negotiating with terrorists has always been the problem, not the ultimate solution.
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