Tel Aviv/Madrid - Unknown Palestinian gunmen kidnapped a Spanish photographer in Gaza Tuesday morning, Palestinian officials and his employers said.
Emilio Morenatti, 37, had been covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the news agency Associated Press for at least a year.
Four armed men were waiting for Morenatti at the door of the apartment in Gaza City where he was staying and forced him to enter a car, AP correspondent in Gaza Ibrahim Barzaq told reporters.
No Palestinian group has so far taken responsibility for snatching the Spaniard and Palestinian police have launched a search for him.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said his ministry wOULD use 'all mechanisms' to arrange for Morenatti's release. The minister said he spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the phone several times Tuesday.
The Palestinian government led by the radical Islamic Hamas movement condemned the kidnapping and called for the photographer's immediate and unconditional release.
'We stress our absolute rejection of such behaviour which increases lawlessness and chaos in our country and which is carried out by individuals who do not care for our national interest,' Hamas cabinet spokesman Ghazi Hamad said in a statement.
'This is an illegal crime that harms the image of our people,' he added.
The Israeli Foreign Press Association also condemned the kidnapping and called for Moranetti's immediate release.
'There can be no justification whatsoever for kidnapping journalists working to cover events inside Gaza,' said the foreign reporters union in a statement.
Kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza mostly, but also in the West Bank, have increased over the past months.
So far, all foreign abductees were released unharmed, in most cases after several hours.
Their captors usually demanded the release of Palestinian militants from Israeli prisons.
Earlier this month, an American voluntary English teacher was kidnapped for several hours in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
And in August, Palestinian militants kidnapped an American reporter and a cameraman from New Zealand working for the Fox news channel.
In the longest kidnapping of foreigners so far, they were held captive for nearly two weeks, but freed after having said at gunpoint that they converted to Islam.