BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities arrested four men believed to have information on the kidnapped Estonians early Sunday morning, security sources told The Daily Star.
Abdel Rahman Mejzoub, his son Wissam, Mohammad Yassin and Nazir Bassel, were arrested just outside the town of Anjar near the Syrian border, the source said
At least 10 other suspects have been arrested since the investigation began.
The four men, currently being held for questioning, are believed to have information on the seven Estonian cyclists who were abducted by masked men at gunpoint on March 23, the source added.
The Estonian nationals were seized in Zahle in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley shortly after arriving from Syria on bicycle.
A previously unknown group, Haraket Al-Nahda Wal-Islah (Movement for Renewal and Reform), has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping but has yet to make any clear demands.
Two videos of the abducted Estonians have been released to date. The first video of the kidnapped seven was added to YouTube on April 19, with the tourists pleading for their lives, appealing for help from France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It was subsequently removed by YouTube.
In the second video, obtained by the Estonian Foreign Ministry on May 19, Kalev Kaosaar, one of the seven kidnapped men, said:“We are very tired and in great danger. We ask our families and all who know us to help us … We have been imprisoned for 54 days by now and it has been very hard time for us.”
Surrounded by his six companions, he added: “We ask Estonian government to help us as Estonian government has left us and is not willing to help us anymore.”
So far, there has been no solid information as to the motivation of the kidnappers or the whereabouts of the Estonians. Security sources have said that the men could be being held in Syria, close to its porous western border with Lebanon. The Estonian Foreign Ministry has said that the first video of the hostages released on April 19 had been uploaded from Damascus.
Kidnappings of foreigners remain rare in Lebanon and March’s attack was one of the most serious of its kind since the 1975-90 Civil War, in which dozens of foreign officials and journalists were abducted by a variety of groups.
Appeals for the release of the seven more continue, including a joint statement by the EU and UN last week marking two months since the abductions took place. Three of Estonia’s Muslim leaders issued a joint statement Saturday appealing for the release of the seven men.