Gaza Gunmen Seize,then Free French Hostages
Palestinian gunmen demanding sweeping reforms by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat seized four French aid workers in Gaza Friday night before freeing them unharmed on Saturday as a sense of growing a-narchy gripped the tiny territory.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei called an emergency cabinet session for Saturday to dis-cuss the chaos in Gaza, fueling spec-ulation his government may resign or be forced out.
The four French nationals were drinking coffee in a restaurant in the town of Khan Younis Friday when gunmen burst in. They were taken at gunpoint by the gunmen to the local Red Crescent building, where mili-tants fired from windows to ward off police.
The gunmen said they would let the hostages go only if Arafat met their demands -- rooting out corrup-tion, implementing major political reforms and easing the hardships of the poor.
But after a few hours, the gunmen first released the two women hostages and then freed the two men.