A group calling themselves Zuwwar al-Imam Rida claim to be behind the kidnapping of two Turkish pilots in Beirut.
Lebanese authorities say they are investigating the previously unknown group, who say the Turkish men were taken as retaliation for the abduction of nine Lebanese shi’ite Muslims near the Turkish-Syrian border in May 2012.
The pilots were kidnapped in Beirut by gunmen who intercepted their bus early on Friday morning. Six Turkish Airlines crew also onboard were not taken.
Following the incident, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül described Lebanon as a “risky place” where Turkish citizens have been taking precautions. He also said Turkey’s Foreign Ministry “took action as soon as possible”.
In addition to warning citizens against travelling to Lebanon, the Foreign Ministry is also said to be working in close contact with the pilots’ employer, Turkish Airlines, and the Lebanese authorities.
The kidnapping shows how the 28-month conflict in Syria is spilling into neighbouring countries.
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