Masked gunmen abducted an Italian journalist in the Gaza Strip (search) town of Deir El-Balah on Saturday, after stopping his car and forcing him into theirs, witnesses said.

The journalist's driver identified him as Lorenzo Cremonesi (search) of the Corriere della Serra daily, witnesses said. The gunmen's car headed for the nearby Nusseirat refugee camp, they added.

Palestinian police had no immediate comment.

The abduction came just days before the last Israeli troops are to vacate the coastal strip, and was further testimony to the lawlessness gripping the area ahead of the pullout.

Earlier in the day, at least 60 armed Palestinians seized two Palestinian government buildings in the town, demanding jobs with the Palestinian Authority (search), witnesses said.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have abducted several foreigners for use as bargaining chips in local feuds. All hostages have been released unharmed after a few hours.