Aid worker to stay in Gaza despite kidnap ordeal

 

The 25-year-old British human rights worker kidnapped and later released by Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip will stay in the region, her family said today.

Kate Burton, her father Hugh and mother Helen were freed last night by a previously unknown group calling itself Brigades of the Mujahideen-Jerusalem which had seized them two days before.

The group said it had kidnapped the three to demand British and European pressure on Israel and had freed them as a gesture of goodwill.

"We are in good health and have been treated extremely well through the ordeal," the Burtons said in a statement released through the British Foreign Office.

"Kate Burton plans to stay in the region and continue working with the Palestinian people," it said.

"Kate remains committed and passionate about working alongside the Palestinians to improve their external image and alleviate the difficult conditions being suffered by the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip."

Ms Burton said that they had been treated well by their captors but that her parents were "tired", the BBC reported after contacting the aid worker on her mobile phone.

"We are pleased to confirm that Kate, Win and Hugh Burton have been released unharmed," the British Foreign Office said.

"They are well and in good spirits. They are currently with officials in our consulate general in Jerusalem who are providing them with all necessary help and care."

The statement condemned all kidnappings and thanked the Palestinian Authority and all those who had helped secure the family's release. The extended family of the Burtons in the UK also released a statement through the Foreign Office, saying they were "overjoyed" at the news.

The Burtons are from Newbury, Berkshire. A flustered-looking Mr Burton, a retired European Union official, was seen being whisked away from Gaza City in a British diplomatic vehicle.