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Turkey advises against all non-essential travel to Lebanon after 2nd kidnapping

  • Aydin Tufan Tekin, a Turk kidnapped by the Meqdad clan, looks on during an interview with two Turkish journalists at his captors' house in the suburbs of Beirut August 16, 2012. A Lebanese Shi'ite clan that abducted more than 20 Syrian opposition activists and a Turk declared an end to its wave of hostage-taking on Thursday, saying it had enough hostages to press for the release of a kinsman held by rebels in Damascus. The Meqdad clan says it is seeking to put pressure on the Free Syrian Army (F

BEIRUT: Ankara has issued a travel warning advising citizens against all non-essential travel to Lebanon after a second Turkish man was kidnapped Friday.

“In light of these developments, our citizens should refrain from traveling to Lebanon unless it’s mandatory. It’s highly important for our citizens who are currently in Lebanon to take every necessary measure for their security and to be vigilant,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement late Friday evening, according to local newspapers.

"The situation in [Lebanon] is entering a course that threatens the security of our citizens ... our citizens should avoid travels to Lebanon unless absolutely necessary,” the statement added.

Turkish businessman Aydin Tufan was kidnapped upon arrival to Rafik Hariri International Airport Wednesday by the Meqdad clan, who also abducted over 20 Syrians, in retaliation for the abduction of one of their members, Hassan Meqdad, in Damascus.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon, and almost all Kuwaiti nationals were evacuated Friday, according to the ambassador.

Another Turkish citizen, Abdulbasit Arslan, was kidnapped at dawn on Friday, but the Meqdad family has denied involvement in this second abduction.

Security sources have told The Daily Star that Arslan was forcibly removed from his Mercedes-Benz truck near the Coca Cola company in Shoueifat and that police have launched an investigation.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Tekin called on Turkish authorities to help secure his release but said that he is in good health and that the Meqdad clan is taking good care of him.

“The best way to solve the problem is good contact with the authorities in a diplomatic way. I have been seeking assistance from the Turkish government,” said Tekin, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Friday that “Lebanese officials are doing all they can so that our abducted citizen in Lebanon gets released,” after having spoken to Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour at an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca a day previously.

"I think they are doing what they can do. God willing we will rescue him safe and sound," he said in comments broadcast on Turkish television.

 
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