Aug 09 2013 - 00:58

REPORT: 2 Turkish Airlines crew kidnapped at Cocodi bridge in Beirut

REPORT: 2 Turkish Airlines crew kidnapped at Cocodi bridge in Beirut Lebanon, news ,lbci ,أخبار crew,Airlines,Turkish,REPORT,
REPORT: 2 Turkish Airlines crew kidnapped at Cocodi bridge in Beirut
Lebanon News
Sources told LBCI that gunmen intercepted on Friday a Turkish airlines bus at Cocodi bridge in Beirut and kidnapped two crew members: a pilot and a co-pilot, both Turkish nationals.

Security officials reported that a Turkish pilot, identified as Murat Akpinar and co-pilot Murat Agga were abducted from the Turkish airlines bus at 3 am as they were heading with other crew members from the Beirut international airport toward a hotel in Ain El-Mrayseh.    

The officials said eight gunmen driving a Kia Picanto and a Nissan X-Trail ambushed the bus, snatched the two men from the vehicle and let the rest continue on. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
This as the Lebanese Armed Forces deployed at the entrance of the Cocodi bridge while the security apparatuses patrolled the area in order to reveal the circumstances behind the incident.                             

Well-informed sources also said that the case of the abducted Turkish nationals at Cocodi bridge is linked to the Aazaz hostages' dossier," adding however that there was no claim of responsibility for the kidnapping.                

"The families of the Lebanese hostages held in Syria's Aazaz may be the perpetrators, putting more pressure on the concerned authorities in order to release their relatives," the sources added.         

Eleven Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped on their way back from Iran by insurgents hoping to use them for a prisoner swap on the 22nd of May. Only two have so far been released.                               

Their families have vowed to continue their movements until all their loved ones have returned home safe and sound.                                        

They accuse Ankara of sponsoring the kidnapping and the Lebanese government of inaptness in this regard.            


Following the incident, the Turkish Foreign Ministry declared via Twitter that the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu contacted the Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker Nabih Berri who condemned the incident, stressing that the Lebanese authorities will deploy every possible effort to release the pilots.

Accordingly, Turkey has called on its nationals to leave Lebanon following the abduction of the two pilots.

“Given the current situation, Turkish citizens should not travel to Lebanon except in case of necessity,” the foreign ministry added.

For his part, the Turkish ambassador to Lebanon Inan Ozyildiz confirmed to LBCI that he is following up on the case, calling on the Lebanese authorities to release the Turkish abductees.

The ambassador also telephoned caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour to brief him more on the incident.

This as Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu said: "We immediately contacted the Lebanese authorities at every level ... and they are conducting a very comprehensive investigation".

"As yet, we do not know who did it or for what purpose."

The rest of the crew were safe in a Beirut hotel and would be returning to Turkey shortly, he said.

This comes as caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel stressed that the security apparatuses have launched investigations in order to pursue the kidnappers and to reveal the circumstances behind the incident, noting that the "real" reason of the abduction remains unknown.

In this context, Charbel told LBCI that he hopes the kidnapping of the two Turkish citizens would intensify the meeting with the Turkish authorities, noting that negotiations are underway between Turkey and Lebanon.

In turn, the General Secretariat of the March 14 alliance said  on Friday that the kidnapping of the two Turkish citizens shakes the credibility of the Lebanese state, adding that such an act could put Beirut International Airport on the list of dangerous and unsafe airports in the world.

In a short statement issued on Friday, the Secretariat urged the Lebanese state to immediately mobilize on all levels to arrest the perpetrators and release the Turks. 

A senior Lebanese political source told Reuters earlier this week that authorities had information that the relatives of the Lebanese detainees were planning to take Turkish hostages.

The Prime Minister-Designate Tammam Salam condemned the incident, stressing that the Lebanese government should not remain silent since such an act harms Lebanon's image and reputation.

Families of the Aazaz hostages:            

Sheikh Abbas Zgheib assigned by the Shiite Islamic Council to follow up on the case of the Aazaz hostages said in a phone call to LBCI that he rules out the possibility of any involvement of the families in the abduction of the Turkish nationals, accusing Turkey of "manipulating the feelings of the Lebanese people and politicians".         

"If it turns out that the families are involved in the incident, no one can blame them since one year has passed from the date of the kidnapping of their relatives," Sheikh Zgheib added.          

In turn, the spokeswoman for the families Hajja Hayat Awali also stressed that they are not involved in Friday's incident.


To watch the full report, please click on the video above 
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