updated 1/8/2005 9:57:21 AM ET 2005-01-08T14:57:21

Masked gunmen on Saturday kidnapped and briefly held two Spanish journalists who were taking photographs in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.

Ramon Lobo, a reporter for El Pais, said he and a photographer, Carmen Secanella, were held by gunmen for an hour and a half before being released unharmed.

Palestinian security officials said the kidnappers were from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades militant group. An official with the group denounced the kidnapping, saying it was done for personal, not political reasons. The journalists were released shortly afterward.

Security officials confirmed that the militants had worked to free the journalists.

The journalists were taking photographs of houses destroyed in a recent Israeli raid into the camp when they were abducted, the officials said.

Over the past four years, foreign and Israeli Arab journalists have felt relatively safe in Gaza. However, Gaza has grown increasingly chaotic in recent months.

In September an Israeli Arab who works as a producer for CNN was briefly kidnapped, reportedly by members of Al Aqsa. In May, Palestinians attempted to kidnap a New York Times correspondent, but the reporter escaped.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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