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Published: Tuesday, 2/20/2007

Three American women briefly kidnapped in West Bank

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NABLUS, West Bank Three American women were briefly kidnapped today in the West Bank city of Nablus and were released later in the evening, Palestinian security officials said.

There was no claim of responsibility by an armed Palestinian group.

At one point, a man calling himself Hadi Saud contacted The Associated Press in Nablus and said he was the kidnapper. He demanded to be given a job in the Palestinian security forces and medication for a shooting injury sustained last year, in exchange for releasing the hostages. He provided no proof that he is holding the women.

The security officials said the three women were last seen taking pictures on the outskirts of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus before they were kidnapped. They were held briefly before being released, security officials said.

Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, said U.S. officials were informed of the kidnappings. We take them extremely seriously, Schweitzer-Bluhm said.

She had no details on the identities of the women or what they were doing in the West Bank.

In the past, scores of foreigners were kidnapped by various Palestinian militant groups, but usually released unharmed after a few hours.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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