Two Turkish Airlines pilots were kidnapped in Beirut. Armed men reportedly stopped a bus they were riding, and abducted the men. Lebanese officials are investigating the incident.
The pilot and co-pilot arrived in Beirut from Istanbul on a commercial flight. They were in a bus on their way to a hotel. Two vehicles approached and blocked the bus less than a mile from the airport.
As reported by ABC News, six armed men boarded the bus. They identified the pilot and co-pilot, forcing them to leave the bus. The bus driver and remaining flight crew members were unharmed. The identities of the Turkish Airlines pilots have not been released.
Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu stated that Lebanese officials were contacted immediately, and are “conducting a very comprehensive investigation.” He further stated that they “do not know who did it or for what purpose.”
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the ambush. However, there are some theories.
As reported by Reuters, Lebanese Shi’ites were captured last year by rebels. They are currently being held hostage in Syria. The Shi’ites’ families have been vocal about their release.
Earlier this week, some of their relatives threatened to abduct Turks in retaliation. However, a spokesman for the relatives stated that they are not responsible for abducting the Turkish Airlines pilots.
The civil war in Syria has caused ongoing distress in Turkey and Lebanon. Sunni Muslim rebels are relentless in their opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Turkey has expressed their support for for the rebels. Lebanon remains divided, as Sunnis support the rebels’ efforts, and Shi’ites stand behind President Assad’s regime.
Conflict between Sunni militants and the Shi’ite Hezbollah is responsible for over 100,000 deaths in the region.
No group has claimed responsibility for the Turkish Airlines pilot abduction. Lebanese authorities are currently investigating the situation and questioning witnesses.
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