BEIRUT (Reuters) - A Turkish national who was kidnapped in Beirut was released and handed over to Ankara’s ambassador in Lebanon on Thursday, Turkey’s foreign minister said.
The kidnapping of foreigners has become a growing concern in Lebanon, which is worried about a possible spillover of sectarian violence from the conflict in Syria.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati telephoned Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is on an official visit to Ukraine, to inform him about the release, Davutoglu said in a posting on his Twitter account.
“Our prime minister has just spoken to our citizen Abdulbasit Aslan on the phone. The necessary preparations for our citizen to be reunited with his family are being made right now,” Davutoglu said.
A Lebanese security source had said earlier that Aslan had been released to the security forces and that the Turkish ambassador was on his way to collect him.
Aslan may have been kidnapped in revenge for the abduction of 11 Shi‘ite Muslim Lebanese men in Syria, a diplomat in Beirut said.
He is the second Turkish man to be released in a week. On Tuesday, a Turkish national who had been abducted by a Lebanese Shi‘ite clan in Beirut was released to security forces.
He had been abducted in mid-August, along with around 20 Syrians, to put pressure on rebels in Syria who had seized one of their kinsmen in Damascus. The Turkish national was the last in the group to be released.
Reporting by Oliver Holmes in Beirut and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; Editing by Andrew Osborn