Two Dutch diplomats briefly kidnapped in Lebanon

16th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Two Dutch diplomats were briefly kidnapped last month in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley and handed over to Syrian authorities across the border before being freed, the Dutch embassy in Beirut said Thursday.

"The two diplomats were stopped at a public road north of Baalbeck by local people on May 24," Hans Peter van der Woude, the deputy head of mission at the Dutch embassy, told AFP.

"They were transferred to Syrian authorities through an informal crossing and... when the Syrians realised they were not brought from Lebanon to Syria in a formal way they sent them back."

He said the incident lasted only a few hours and that the two diplomats, whose identities and rank was not disclosed, were treated correctly.

"We have no idea why they were kidnapped," Van der Woude said.

A local news agency in Lebanon said Syrian authorities immediately ordered their release when they realised the two were diplomats.

The Bekaa Valley has long enjoyed a reputation as a region with lawless pockets where local clans rule.

Seven Estonian cyclists were kidnapped in the region on March 23 shortly after entering Lebanon from Syria.

That case remains shrouded in mystery with little information gleaned on their whereabouts or those behind the abduction.

© 2011 AFP

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