(Corrects time in second para to 1400 GMT from 1500 GMT)
GAZA, April 14 (Reuters) - A Jihadist group in the Gaza Strip aligned with al Qaeda threatened on Thursday to execute an abducted Italian it is holding within hours, unless Hamas Islamists release the group’s leader.
A You Tube clip the group posted on Thursday said the man they were holding, Vittorio Arrigoni, would be killed on Friday at 5 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) unless Hamas releases Hesham al-Sa‘eedni, whom it detained last month.
“If our demands are not met within 30 hours starting from 11 a.m. of 14.4.2011 the captive will be executed when the period is over,” a text on the video clip said.
Arrigoni, an Italian pacifist, has lived in the Gaza Strip for some time. He was shown blindfolded with blood around his right eye and a hand can be seen pulling his head up by his hair to face the camera.
Hamas, which has in the past denied any al Qaeda presence in Gaza, has been trying to keep other Islamist groups in check following a devastating Israeli military offensive in 2009. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Mark Heinrich)