SIDON, Lebanon: A businessman was snatched in south Lebanon overnight and held for ransom, security sources said Wednesday.
The sources said a four-wheel drive vehicle belonging to businessman Najib Youssef was found abandoned off a road in Abu Aswad, north of the Litani River, late Tuesday evening.
They said Youssef, 65, who hails from the southern town of Burj al-Shemali, owns several franchises in addition to various plots of land in the Tyre region.
The kidnappers later contacted his family and demanded a ransom of $3 million, the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.
The Association of Tyre Merchants condemned the kidnapping, saying “the crime is part of a series of such incidents that strike at civil peace and the economic situation in Lebanon, which was already suffering from recession.”
The group urged the authorities to act quickly to apprehend the perpetrators, calling Youssef a leading merchant who “believes in Lebanon and remaining in his country to boost economic growth, especially in the south and in Tyre.”
Kidnapping-for-ransom has increased in Lebanon in recent months.
Monday, gunmen kidnapped Ahmad Diab Abu Hasan as he was parking his Mercedes-Benz in front of his business in the town of Jlala near Chtaura, east Lebanon.
His abduction came less than a week after Lebanese business owner Fadi Mitri was kidnapped in the Metn town of Mansourieh.
Mitri was released over the weekend after a $75,000 ransom was paid.