Saturday, August 24, 2013

Armed group kidnaps Turkish pilots in Beirut, demands release of Shi’a in Syria

By Justin Salhani

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Armed gunmen intercepted a shuttle bus transporting Turkish Airlines crew members from the airport Friday morning, kidnapping two.
Local media reported that the bus left Rafik Hariri Airport Friday morning at 3 a.m. for a hotel in Beirut. Shortly after, while driving along the old airport road the vehicle was stopped by two cars filled with eight gunmen. Four of the gunmen allegedly approached the bus and asked the passengers about the Turkish pilots before kidnapping them.
A group calling itself Zuwwar al-Imam Ali al-Rida, which roughly translates to “The Visitors of Imam Ali al-Rida,” claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of pilot Murat Akpinar and copilot Murat Agca, both Turkish nationals. Shi’a Muslims believe Imam Rida was the eighth of the Twelve Imams.
Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel claimed to have no information on the group but said authorities were looking into the situation to determine if the group was authentic.

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