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Gaza police identify Arrigoni murder suspects

April 18, 2011 1:56 P.M. (Updated: April 20, 2011 3:29 P.M.)
Correction appended

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza police on Monday released the photos of three men identified as the prime suspects in the murder of Italian activist and journalist Vittorio Arrigoni.

Police said the men were currently fugitives, and apparently in hiding.

The men were identified as Abdul-Rahman Al-Breizat, Mahmoud Muhammad Nimir Salfiti and Bilal Al-Umari.

Police did not say whether any of the men were affiliated with a political, religious or military group in the coastal enclave.

Two men detained earlier were not directly involved in the murder, police said.

Police gave no indication as to who identified the men, or whether they were suspected to be behind the hanging of Arrigoni, or connected to his abduction last week.

Arrigoni was kidnapped in Gaza City, and his captors released a ransom video Thursday threatening to execute him unless Hamas released Salafi prisoners within 30 hours. Before the deadline passed, the Italian activist was found hanged in an abandoned home northwest of Gaza City.

On Sunday, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh offered police a reward for the arrest of those involved, and police announced a closure of sectors of the Strip in an attempt to close in on suspects.

Haniyeh also announced that Arrigoni would be granted a state funeral, and that his body would be transferred into the custody of family via the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

Arrigoni's mother told the Italian newspaper Agenzia Giornalistica Italia that she would not allow her son's body to return from Gaza via Israel.

"Israel did not want him when he was alive and won't have him when he is dead," she told AGI.

This version CORRECTS that Gaza police identified three men as suspects in the case, not four as initially stated.

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