Dutch Embassy Confirms Two Diplomats Briefly Kidnapped in Lebanon

Two Dutch diplomats were briefly kidnapped last month in eastern Lebanon’s 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 Baalbek by local people on May 24," Hans Peter van der Woude, the deputy head of mission at the Dutch embassy, told Agence France Presse.

"They were transferred to Syrian authorities through an informal crossing and... when the Syrians realized 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.

The Central News Agency said on Wednesday that the Syrian authorities immediately ordered their release when they realized the two people 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.

Source: Agence France Presse

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