Gaza: Palestinians burn German flag
Dozens of protesters storm German cultural center in Gaza City, smash windows, burn flag in protest of Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Earlier, Palestinian sources say gunmen kidnapped 2 foreign citizens; however, sources looking into possibility that kidnapped people are Palestinians
About two dozen Palestinian protesters stormed the German cultural center in Gaza City Saturday, smashing windows, breaking doors and burning the German flag, to protest cartoons deemed insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.
Down the street from the cultural center, about 30 Palestinians threw stones at the European Commission building, also to protest the cartoons, before police brought them under control.
About 50 schoolchildren and teenagers gathered at one corner of the street to try to resume the attacks on the two buildings, but Palestinian riot police, armed with batons, pushed them back. The youths threw stones at the police, then fled.
The cartoons, which have created a furor across the Muslim world, were first published in Denmark, and then in newspapers elsewhere in Europe in a show of solidarity with press freedoms.
Earlier, Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported that a foreign journalist and a foreign citizen were kidnapped in the Strip.
According to the reports, gunmen shoved the two into a Volkswagen car and fled the area, apparently in protest against the publication of the cartoons in a number of newspapers across the world.
However, Palestinian sources in Gaza reported that they were looking into the possibility that the two people kidnapped in were Palestinian rather than foreign citizens.
Palestinians suspect that the two are an officer in the presidential guard and his wife, who were kidnapped due to internal conflicts in the Palestinian Authority.
On Thursday evening, a German national, apparently a human rights activist, was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Nablus for the same reason. He was released shortly afterwards.
The gunmen snatched the German, later identified as 21-year-old Christopher Kasten, from his hotel lobby, shoved him into a car and sped away.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
Upon his release, the German citizen told Ynet that he was not angry at the Palestinians and would continue helping them through his profession as a volunteering English teacher.
He said that he was in good condition and that no one threatened him or used violence against him. He did not know who had kidnapped him, but said he believes that the kidnappers did not represent the Palestinian people.
Earlier Thursday, al-Aqsa Brigades gunmen in Nablus threatened to kidnap foreigners staying in the city’s hotels or apartments, while dozens of Islamic Jihad and Fatah gunmen stormed the European Union building in the Gaza Strip to protest the publication the cartoons.
The armed Palestinians demanded an official Danish apology for the caricatures, which the gunmen said hurt the feelings of Muslims.
AP contributed to the report