Brother of Lebanese Reporter Released by Abductors

The brother of a Lebanese journalist, who was kidnapped last week in the eastern Bekaa Valley, was released overnight after the mediation of General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.

The abductors of Khodr Farouq Darwish, whose car was found in Baalbek's al-Taybeh last Friday, had called his family and asked for a $135,000 ransom.

He is the brother of LBCI's reporter in the eastern city of Zahle Nayef Darwish.

Reports said the kidnappers handed over the abductee to Sheikh Rida al-Masri in the town of Hawr Taala at dawn Wednesday.

The state-run National News Agency said ransom was not paid but reports said that Darwish was set free after coming under pressure by certain political parties.

Kidnappings in return for ransom have risen more than seven-fold in an unlikely knock-on effect from Syria's civil war. Security officials say gangs who once made their money smuggling fuel and contraband through the porous Syria-Lebanon border have watched their trade wither because of the violence, so they are turning to kidnapping to make a profit.

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