Last Updated: Wed Jun 13, 2012 13:09 pm (KSA) 10:09 am (GMT)

Tit-for-tat kidnappings in northern Lebanon as Syria conflict spills over

In addition to recent kidnappings in the Wadi Khaled area, a number of abductions have also been reported in the Bekaa region of Eastern Lebanon. (Reuters)
In addition to recent kidnappings in the Wadi Khaled area, a number of abductions have also been reported in the Bekaa region of Eastern Lebanon. (Reuters)

Wadi Khaled celebrated on Tuesday Suleiman Khaled Ahmad’s release. Residents of Wadi Khaled fired shots into the air as they welcomed Suleiman back home in the afternoon. His friends and supporters carried him on their shoulders as he entered his hometown.

Ahmad was detained by the Syrian army after being kidnapped on Saturday in Halba, the northern district of Akkar in Lebanon, by gangs hailing from al Msoudieh village. Ahmad’s relatives subsequently detained five residents of al-Msoudieh village.

Following reports of Ahmed’s release, residents of Wadi Khaled released all of those kidnapped from Msoudieh, who had been held in retaliation.

Ahmad said that he was kidnapped on Sunday by Lebanese Alawites and was then handed to the Syrian authorities. “I was subjected to torture in Syria and accused of smuggling arms from Lebanon,” Suleiman told reporters.

Tit-for-tat abductions in Akkar, has caused fear among residents of the border region of a renewal of the sectarian tensions that engulfed the country in a 15-year-long civil war.

In relation to this, Abdel-Razzaq al-Khalid, an activist in Wadi Khaled, told Al Arabiya.net that Lebanese authorities should take measures towards future unrest and arrest suspects and smugglers who are constantly exposing the region to security threats. He also stressed the importance of troop deployment on the border to prevent smuggling and to secure full protection of the people living there.

Lebanese Minister of Works and Transport Ghazi Aridi warned that the situation has the potential to escalate into serious turmoil. He stressed that continuous tension among Alawites and Sunnis in northern Lebanon and the cases of tit-for-tat abductions should not be ignored. Aridi said there was a great need for Lebanese authorities to take necessary measures to alleviate the tensions.

Meanwhile Future bloc lawmaker Khaled Daher denounced the kidnapping that have occured on Lebanese soil by what he described as a “gang from the Syrian regime.” Daher also condemned the kidnappings by Lebanese villagers, calling upon the people of Aklar ”to fortify stability and co-existence.” Daher also revealed that the Future Movement has urged the government to produce formal letters addressed to the Arab League, the Islamic Conference and the United Nations, in order to denounce the repeated violations of the Syrian regime against Lebanese sovereignty.

In addition to recent kidnappings in the Wadi Khaled area, a number of abductions have also been reported in the Bekaa region of Eastern Lebanon. The latest of such was that of Syrian citizen, Habib Al-Brimo, who was taken on Friday afternoon on the road to Zahle and subsequently released in exchange for a ransom at dawn on Monday. Abu Mas’ud, one of the captors, told Al Arabiya that he carried out the kidnapping because
Brimo has promised to mediate with the Syrian authorities in order to secure the release of a relative, held in Syria since 2010 by the Assad regime.

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