BEIRUT: The Saudi Embassy in Lebanon intervened earlier this week to secure the release of two of its nationals after they were detained in the Lebanese capital by members of Hezbollah, Riyadh’s ambassador to Beirut said in remarks published Saturday.
“Members of Hezbollah detained two Saudi nationals in [Beirut’s southern suburb] and investigated them for hours before releasing them at midnight [Thursday] after intervention and contacts [by the Embassy],” Ali Awad Asiri told pan-Arab Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat.
The Saudi nationals, Asiri explained, had been on their way to an auto repair shop in Beirut’s southern suburbs when they were blindfolded and taken to an unidentified location by members of Hezbollah.
“As soon as the Embassy learned about [their detention], it made contacts with the concerned parties and worked on releasing them," he said.
Hezbollah has recently boosted security measures in Beirut’s southern suburbs after two separate car bombings in the area killed dozens and wounded hundreds. The party has established checkpoints at the entrances to the suburbs and inside neighborhoods to try and detect and deter further attacks.
On Friday, the Saudi Embassy filed a complaint to the Foreign Ministry after one of its diplomatic cars was inspected at a Hezbollah checkpoint near Beirut’s southern suburb of Shiyyah a day earlier, a source at the Saudi mission told The Daily Star.
Asiri, in comments to An-Nahar newspaper, voiced “great discontent” over the incident.
“I am always keen on preserving... the historical ties between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon but what happened goes against these solid ties [between the two states],” he said.
“I expressed great discontent over the incident and spoke to the caretaker foreign minister and prime minister over the violation which we totally reject.”
Asiri said the diplomatic car was searched for over half an hour.
In remarks to Al-Joumhouria newspaper, caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour warned against exaggerating the incident.
“We should resolve it through diplomatic channels,” he said.