BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Tit-for-tat kidnappings sweep Bekaa Valley

  • File - Lebanese army soldiers man a checkpoint following tensions after the killing of four Lebanese men in Bekaa, June 16, 2013. (REUTERS/Rami Bleibel)

HERMEL, Lebanon: Negotiations are underway to solve the latest round of retaliatory hostage-taking in the Bekaa Valley, which has seen three separate incidents of kidnapping in the last 24 hours.

A resident of the village of Younin,Abbas Qasas, was kidnapped from Arsal Friday and reportedly taken to the Syrian town ofYabroud, where his kidnappers phoned his family to demand $120,000 in ransom.

In a separate incident in the Central Bekaa village of Forzol, four armed men assaulted aman and kidnapped him by forcing him into the trunk of their car and taking him to an unidentified place, theNationalNewsAgency said.

The most intensive negotiations, meanwhile, have centered on the town of Arsal and the Moqdad clan, one of whose members, Mohammad Moqdad, was snatched Thursday.

His disappearance prompted his family to kidnap 10 residents of Arsal in retaliation. Arsal’s mayor, Ali Hujeiri,said the kidnapping was sparked by investigations into the June killing of four Shiites in an area called Wadi Rafik.

HeclaimedthatthreeArsalresidents,Hassan Hussein Rayed, Omar Ahmad al-Atrash and Sami al-Atrash, were allegedly involved, along with several Syrians, in theWadi Rafik murders.

Omar al-Atrash allegedly carried out Moqdad’s kidnapping, said Hujeiri, “as a reaction to the investigation

that revealed his role in many kidnappings and killings.”

“The people of Arsal reiterate their rejection of these crimes,” Hujeiri added. “They are innocent and have nothing to do with these criminals and we ask the security forces to act quickly to put an end to this phenomenon and arrest the criminals, irrespective of the group to which they belong.”

Tit-for-tat kidnappings involving Sunni-majority Arsal and the Shiite clans of the northern Bekaa have been on the rise since the beginning of theSyrian crisis in Syria.

 
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