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Peruvian Photographer Released by Kidnappers Returns Home
Associated Press Writer

A Peruvian photographer, returning home Wednesday, described spending days of isolation and uncertainty while he was held for a week by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Jaime Razuri, 50, a Peruvian photographer with the French news agency Agence France-Presse, was abducted at gunpoint on Jan. 1 in Gaza City, the latest in a string of abductions of foreign journalists. His kidnappers released him unharmed on Jan. 7.

Razuri said armed men wearing masks intercepted him in the doorway of the building where AFP has its office and shoved him into a car.

"I didn't put up any resistance. There were four people in the car, including the one who had grabbed me in the doorway," Razuri told reporters at a news conference in Peru's Foreign Ministry. "They didn't let me see the route where we were going. They forced me to keep my head down."

Razuri said he was brought to a house, where he was given a mattress, a blanket and food and told not to worry. He said he was never mistreated by his kidnappers.

Later that night, he said, he was moved to another building, where he had to climb four flights of stairs.

"The first five days there was very little communication," he said. "On the second day I started trying to establish some type of communication to try to understand what they wanted from me."

He said he asked if there was someone who spoke English, and his guard told him to wait five minutes.

"That five minutes turned into five days," he said. On the fifth day "a man with his face covered by a mask came and sat down and spoke English with me, and it was at that moment that I had some inkling that things weren't going to turn out badly."

Most of the kidnappings in Gaza have been carried out by disgruntled groups seeking favors from the government or trying to settle scores with rivals.

In most cases, the victims have been released unharmed within hours. An exception was the abduction of two Fox News employees last summer who were held for two weeks.

Palestinian officials said Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Popular Resistance Committees - a militant group with links to Hamas - mediated his release.

Peruvian officials said France and Spain also intervened on Razuri's behalf.

Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Gonzalo Gutierrez said Wednesday that Razuri's abduction was prompted by the killing of two members of a Fatah-linked clan two weeks before the kidnapping.

Gutierrez said the clan took Razuri hostage with the initial demand that Hamas militants responsible for the killings be turned over to them.

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