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Lebanon News

Army raids Beirut apartments in hunt for kidnap suspects

Mohammad Nibal Awada, center, is surrounded by his family after his release in Beirut, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The Army carried out raids Tuesday on apartment buildings in Beirut thought to be the hideouts of those involved in the recent kidnapping of a schoolboy who was released after a ransom payment.

Some 100 Army soldiers took part in the midday raid near Beirut’s Cite Sportive, said the security sources.

The operation was being conducted with the assistance of the father of 12-year-old Mohammad Awada, the sources added.

Awada was kidnapped at gunpoint last month in front of his house in Beirut and was later released after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

Three buildings have so far been raided, the sources said.

They would not say how many suspects the security forces were after.

Lebanon has seen a spate of kidnap-for-ransom cases over the past two years. Last week, the Higher Defense Council promised swift action against a wave of kidnappings as authorities announced that progress had been made in recent cases.

Lebanese leaders denounced the spate of kidnappings and called on citizens throughout the country to help the security forces arrest the perpetrators.

In a televised speech last week, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called the rash of kidnappings a “dangerous precedent.”

“We will not give anyone involved in kidnappings political cover and shelter,” Nasrallah said. “There are no streets and regions that are closed to the police and I call on all citizens to help them catch the kidnappers,” he added. “Such money is the worst kind of money; it is fully rejected because it destroys homes, families and the country.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 06, 2013, on page 4.

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