GAZA CITY: After some four months of captivity in the hands of Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip, kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston (45) was freed early today. His negotiated release follows the intervention of the Palestinian political group Hamas.

"It's indescribably good to be out," Johnston told BBC TV by phone from the Gaza City home of former Hamas prime minister Ismael Hania. "It was an appalling experience."

Johnston, who was abducted on March 12, then held a joint news conference with Hania. The latter told reporters that Hamas had made "a big effort in past months to free him.''

According to a spokesman for Hania: "We decided that if [the abductors] don't release him we will have to use force. We then held negotiations all night and they agreed to release him.''

Johnston's family declared themselves "overjoyed"' at the news.

In a statement issued by the family, they said: "The last 114 days have been a dreadful time for us. Through it all, we never lost hope. Alan had always told us of the friends he'd made in Gaza. We knew, in the end, they would be there for him."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff