Alan Johnston in "good health"

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BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston is alive and in "good health", the Palestinian government has said.

The office of deputy prime minister Azzam al-Ahmad released a statement stating the claim following talks with Britain's Jerusalem consul general, Richard Makepeace, in Ramallah.

Mr Johnston was in the last weeks of his posting when his abandoned car was found on a Gaza street on March 12th.

Earlier this month a previously unknown militant group calling itself al-Tawhid al-Jihad Brigade contacted news agencies to claim it had killed the 44-year-old.

But following a lack of independent verification, Mr al-Ahmad said today: "The information that we have indicates that [Mr] Johnston is in good health.

"The [Palestinian] government is fully co-ordinating with the presidency and all security services to pursue the extensive efforts to release [Mr] Johnston and bring him back safely to his home, family and his work."

More than 50,000 people have registered their names in support of Mr Johnston on a BBC website petition, while journalists across Europe and the Middle East have staged demonstrations demanding his immediate release.

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