Source AP ©

Palestinian guards beat journalists for demonstrating

The security guard at the Palestinian parliament scuffled with a crowd of Palestinian journalists who were demonstrating to support the kidnapped British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent, pushing back journalists and beating two of them with riffle butts.

About 200 journalists had gathered outside the building, seeking information about BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. When journalists tried to enter parliament to talk to lawmakers about the case, the guards violently pushed them back and barred them from entering.

They journalists called on lawmakers to come out of the building to talk to them. Some held signs and photos that said "Free Alan."

Johnston, 44, was abducted by gunmen in Gaza City on March 12 and has not been seen or heard from since then.

On Sunday, a previously unknown group, "The Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad," said it had killed Johnston to support demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. But Palestinian officials have said they could not confirm the claim.

"We came to ask those lawmakers about the facts and the truth on the fate of our kidnapped colleague," said Saadi Alkasaef, an activist in the local journalists' union. "It's more than a month right now and we are concerned for Alan's life after the statement released two days ago. We came peacefully, but we are being assaulted now."

A planned parliamentary session went on as scheduled, but after the scuffle outside, the journalists did not attend.

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