Lebanese Sources Say Abu Nidal Holding Briton
SIDON, Lebanon (AP) _ Lebanese security sources today accused a radical Palestinian guerrilla group led by Abu Nidal of kidnapping a British relief agency official and a Syrian aide near this southern port city.
Also today, former West German hostage Ralph Schray returned to Moslem west Beirut, three days after he was released by pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem kidnappers and taken to Syria, a relative said.
Schray is the first foreign former hostage who has returned to Lebanon to live.
″We have information that Fatah-Revolutionary Council is holding Peter Coleridge and Omar Traboulsi,″ the Lebanese security source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Coleridge, 44, is Middle East coordinator for Oxfam, a British relief works organization, and Traboulsi, 31, is Oxfam’s Lebanon representative. The two vanished Thursday. No one has claimed responsibility for their disappearance.
″We’re not involved in this matter,″ a spokesman for Fatah-Revolutionary Council, Abu Nidal’s faction, told reporters in Sidon, 25 miles south of Beirut.
Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri al-Banna, broke away from Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization in 1974 and founded his own faction. He tops the list of terrorists wanted in the United States and Western Europe.
Efforts by Sunni Moslem militia leader Mustafa Saad to release the two relief workers appeared in vain.
Saad today urged foreigners to leave Lebanon, saying ″the Lebanese parties, the security systems and the Palestinian people in the camps cannot protect the foreigners who provide them with humanitarian assistance.″
He said his group will reconsider its alliance with Palestinian factions in light of the abduction.
A police spokesman in Sidon said earlier that Coleridge and Traboulsi were being held in Ein el-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp, on Sidon’s southeastern outskirts by ″a Palestinian guerrilla group that does not operate under″ the PLO.
The spokesman, who cannot be named under standing regulations, refused to identify the faction.
John Magrath, an Oxfam spokesman, said Friday in Oxford, England, that the two men were kidnapped. But Nissrine Rawda, an official at Oxfam’s Beirut office, said there were ″no eyewitnesses confirming the abduction.″
British Ambassador John Gray, who spoke Friday with Mrs. Rawda, said: ″I have no confirmation of the (abduction) story one way or the other.″
The police spokesman said the relief workers met for 30 minutes Thursday with officials of the Ghassan Kanafani Foundation, a Palestinian charity that receives aid from Oxfam. The foundation is sponsored by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which operates under the PLO.
The two were ″kidnapped shortly after they left the Ghassan Kanafani Foundation’s office in Ein el-Hilweh,″ the police spokesman said.
He said their station wagon was seen driven into the ″(anti-Arafat) group’s underground garage in the Hittin district of Ein el-Hilweh Thursday afternoon.″ He declined to give further details.
Coleridge and Traboulsi traveled to Sidon Thursday to inspect Oxfam’s operations.
Saad, whose Nasserite militia controls Sidon, told reporters Friday the two men had been ″detained for questioning″ by an unidentified Palestinian group in Ein el-Hilweh.
He said Coleridge had visited the Hittin district on Ein el-Hilweh’s southern edge in 1982 after the Israeli army attacked it.
″When he returned this time he took pictures of the area’s reconstruction and a group inside the camp seized him for questioning, fearing he might be taking espionage photographs,″ Saad said.
Twenty-two other foreigners are missing and believed kidnapped in Lebanon. They include nine Americans, four Frenchmen, three Britons, a West German, an Irishman, an Italian, an Indian and two unidentified men.
Longest held is Terry A. Anderson, 40, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, who was kidnapped March 16, 1985.
Schray was released Thursday after 35 days in captivity.
Today, he drove the 55 miles from Damascus, the Syrian capital, with his Lebanese wife of six months, Rana Mounla, and his uncle, George Abu Nassar, a wealthy Lebanese businessman of Palestinian descent, said a relative speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Lebanese-born Schray, an industrial engineer, was handed over to the West German Embassy in Damascus.
Schray ″returned to resume his normal life in west Beirut. He still feels he is more Lebanese than German despite his ordeal,″ said the family source.
Reporters and photographers who rushed to Schray’s west Beirut apartment were turned back by relatives who said the couple was not home.