BEIRUT: A 9-year-old boy who was kidnapped in east Lebanon was safely returned to his family early Saturday.
“They [the kidnappers] told me I would be back at home at 6:00 a.m. in the morning,” Michel Saqr, sitting next to his relieved father, told reporters at his home in Zahle in the early hours of Saturday.
Saqr was snatched Friday at around 7:00 a.m. while on his way to the Sainte Famille School in Zahle with his two sisters. A security source said he was abducted by four masked gunmen from the car that was taking him to school along with his two sisters.
In his account of the release, Saqr said the kidnappers had driven him to a house which he was instructed to enter.
“[A kidnapper] took the blindfold off my eyes and led me to the house. He told me to tell the people in there what had happened,” he said.
“I called my mother and then went to the Serail in Zahle before returning home,” the boy said.
Saqr said he was not harmed during his captivity and that his kidnappers had routinely asked whether he wanted any food.
“There was no furniture, only mattresses on the floor,” Saqr said, referring to the apartment where he had been briefly held.
The release of Saqr was likely prompted by a series of raids conducted by the Lebanese Army in the northeast of the country, a security source said.
The source said one of the raids in the Bekaa Valley village of Brital ended in a shootout between the Army and Maher Tleis, a suspect linked to the kidnapping who also has several warrants against him.
A woman who was wounded by a stray bullet during the standoff at Tleis’ house died in hospital early Saturday, the source said.