TALLINN - Lebanon’s secret services have arrested four people involved in kidnapping bicycle tourists from Estonia, according to the Estonian Foreign Ministry.
“Together with our Lebanese colleagues we can confirm information about the arrest of three people who may be involved in the abduction,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said late on Wednesday.
He said “the operation continues at the site. The Lebanese security forces have at last found the bus which the bandits used,” the minister said.
According to the press service of the Estonian Foreign Ministry, Lebanon’s police chief Major General Ashraf Rifi urged the leaders of the gang to surrender voluntarily and set free the kidnapped people. The bus used to transport the kidnapped has been found and sent for expertise.
It has been a week since the bicycle tourists were abducted in the Beqaa Valley. The Lebanese authorities have managed to trace the suspects, but the fate of the tourists is still unclear.
The Estonian and Lebanese authorities continue cooperating closely. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in connection with the incident that Estonia feels support and assistance from many countries in the settlement of the hostage crisis.
The tourists were known to be heading for a night lodging in the Christian city of Zahle when they were stopped by masked people who drove them in microbuses in unknown direction.
Foreign hostages, captured during the civil war in Lebanon, were hidden in the Beqaa Valley. All in all, 88 foreigners were abducted between 1984 and 1990. The Lebanese army repeatedly carried out roundups in the recent past in the north and east of Beqaa against local drug barons and cells of Islamists, connected with Al Qaeda.