Two Finnish Soldiers Released After Seven-Hour Captivity
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Moslem gunmen kidnapped two Finnish soldiers serving with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon and held them for seven hours before releasing them in west Beirut, a UNIFIL spokesman said Sunday.
Colonel Erki Pulli, the senior UNIFIL representative in Beirut, identified the kidnap victims as Sgt. Kyosti Riihela and Sgt. Kolari Arto, who work at the UNIFIL’s house in the Lebanese capital.
They were abducted by two gunmen as they drove to work on the seafront near Jenah Boulevard and were freed near UNIFIL’s house at Bir Hassan neighborhood near the Palestinian refugee camp of Chatilla, Pulli said.
Local radio stations said the kidnappers belonged to Hezbollah, or party of God, a pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem faction.
Pulli said a telephone caller claiming to speak for the kidnappers said ″they wanted back some friends in the hands of the Lebanese army.″ He did not elaborate.
However, two gunmen were arrested Saturday after four Hezbollah gunmen tried to rob a west Beirut bank and were thwarted in a gunbattle with soldiers of the Lebanese Army’s mostly Shiite 6th brigade.
The radios said one gunman was wounded and another escaped.
It was not clear whether the detained gunmen had been released in exchange for the release of the two Finns.