BEIRUT: A state agricultural and research official fended off would-be kidnappers in the Bekaa Valley late Wednesday with a Kalashnikov assault rifle that he keeps on his passenger seat.
A security source told The Daily Star that shortly before midnight, two gunmen in a green Jeep Cherokee intercepted the car of Michel Afram, the head of the Agricultural Research Institute, in the village of Dhour Ksara near Zahle.
The source said one of the gunmen approached the car and broke the windshield with the butt of his gun in an attempt to kidnap Afram.
Afram grabbed his Kalashnikov, lying on the car seat beside him, and fired toward the two men, causing them to flee. The agriculture official was slightly injured by flying glass from the broken windshield, the source added.
In a separate incident, a Syrian man who was kidnapped in the Bekaa Valley last week by members of the Ghazi clan was freed after his kidnappers came under fire while transporting him to an unidentified location, the National News Agency reported.
Mustafa Baylouni was in a vehicle with his kidnappers when they came under fire from the Syrian side of the border in the village of Jisr al-Baraghit in Akkar.
When the kidnappers fled, Baylouni managed to take refuge in the nearby village of Mashta Hassan.
The vehicle used in the kidnapping was confiscated by the police in Mashta Hassan, and an investigation was launched to identify the kidnappers as well as the owner of the car.
Politicians and security officials have pledged to rein in the growing phenomenon of kidnapping for ransom, and have recently announced the arrest of several dozen individuals in their crackdown.