BBC journalists watch, wait

600 hold vigil for missing reporter

LONDON -- More than 600 BBC journalists led by BBC director general Mark Thompson held a vigil Monday for kidnapped BBC Gaza reporter Alan Johnston, who has been missing for a week.

About 500 staffers from the BBC's main headquarters in West London gathered for a two-minute silence, while 100 others signaled their support at BBC World Service radio headquarters in central London.

Simon Wilson, the BBC's Jerusalem bureau chief, said that "no firm word" had been received on Johnston's whereabouts despite intensive attempts to make contact with him via the Palestinian authorities, and conceded that the BBC was "growing increasingly concerned" about Johnston's whereabouts.

"It has now been a week since our colleague Alan Johnston left this building and headed for his apartment in Gaza City. Although we have not been able to establish exactly what has happened to Alan, it seems certain that he has been abducted and is being held somewhere in the Gaza Strip," Wilson said. "As time passes, we are growing increasingly concerned about Alan's safety ... after seven days there has still been no firm word either about his whereabouts or his condition."

Wilson said the BBC is working with the local authorities in an attempt to located Johnston and that it "continued to receive assurances" that everything possible was being done.