Gunmen kidnap seven Red Cross aid workers in northern Syria
Seven workers with the Red Cross were kidnapped by gunmen in Idlib province, northern Syria, on Sunday. (AFP/Getty)
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Unidentified gunmen kidnapped seven workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after stopping their convoy early on Sunday along a roadside in northern Syria.
Simon Schorno, the Damascus-based spokesman for the ICRC, said the abduction occurred near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province around 11:30am local time (0830 GMT) as the team was returning to Damascus, the Associated Press reported.
Six of the people kidnapped are ICRC staff workers and one is a volunteer from the Syrian Red Crescent, he added.
Schorno declined to provide the nationalities of the six ICRC employees, according to AP.
SANA, Syria's state news agency, quoted an anonymous official as saying the the gunmen opened fire on the ICRC's convoy shortly before kidnapping the workers. SANA blamed "terrorists" for the attack, the term the government uses to refer to those who oppose the regime of President Bashar Assad, AP reported.
Schorno added that the team of seven had been working on the ground in Syria since October 10 in a bid to assess the medical and humanitarian situation in Idlib province and how to best to distribute medical aid to those in need, AP reported. During his statement, the spokesman noted that Idlib province is “by definition is a difficult area to go in”.
Much of the rural areas surrounding Idlib province have been commandeered by rebel groups and kidnappings of aid workers and foreign journalists have become more common, according to AP.