After ambush, militants abduct then release two in NE Lebanon

Published April 1st, 2015 - 07:02 GMT

Two Arsal residents were abducted and later released Tuesday after a passenger van they were riding in was ambushed by militants in northeast Lebanon.

A security source said unidentified militants in two SUVs stopped the van in the mainly Shiite Baalbek village of Nabi Othman, where they abducted two passengers identified as Ahmad Hussein Kronbiand and Amer Kronbi.

The militants fired shots into the air in order to secure their escape and fled toward the town of Halbata, 12 kilometers northeast of Baalbek.

According to the source, Tuesday’s abduction was a retaliatory kidnapping carried out one day after a Halbata resident from the Saifeddine family was snatched in the predominantly Sunni town of Arsal.

The source said there was no clear link between the passengers who were taken captive Tuesday and the kidnappers of the Halbata resident.

“The only link is that the two passengers were from Arsal, which is where the Halbata resident was kidnapped a day earlier,” he said.

The National News Agency later said the two passengers were released.

Killings and acts of kidnapping for ransom or of a sectarian nature have occurred on and off in the Bekaa Valley over the past years.

They declined in recent weeks in light of a security plan implemented in the area by the Lebanese army, the General Security and Internal Security Forces in February, only to rise again in recent days.

Hussein Ezzeddine was kidnapped by gunmen from inside Arsal and taken to the outskirts Monday afternoon before being released Tuesday.

The captors are believed to be members of ISIS, who are holed up in the mountains surrounding Arsal.

Younis Hujeiri, also from Arsal, was allegedly executed by ISIS Sunday while Khaled Mahmoud Hujeiri, another resident, was killed in his home.

Younis had allegedly been abducted by gunmen following a personal dispute.

He was kidnapped in January.

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