Briton, Frenchman Kidnapped in Lebanon
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Gunmen kidnapped a British journalist Monday near Beirut, and a Lebanese underground group said it abducted a Frenchman who was reported missing in the northern port of Tripoli.
The Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions demanded that a comrade jailed in France be freed within 48 hours in exchange for the Frenchman, Gilles Sidney Peyrolles. He was the fourth French citizen to be kidnapped in Lebanon since Friday.
Eight Westerners have disappeared in Lebanon since March 14.
A U.N. official, who asked not to be identified, said Briton Alec Collett, 63, was in Lebanon on a special writing assignment for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. He said gunmen stopped Collett’s car at about 2 p.m. near the Khalde junction south of the capital.
The gunmen took Collett away in a car, the U.N. official said, leaving behind an Austrian traveling with him. Officials of the U.N. agency in Vienna identified the Austrian as Fritz Heindl, an employee of the refugee agency.
Peyrolles, director of the French cultural center in Tripoli, was reported seen last Saturday afternoon in the port city 50 miles north of Beirut.
A statement delivered Monday to a Western news agency in the capital said the Revolutionary Factions abducted him and demanded the release of Abdel- Kader Saadi within 48 hours.
Saadi was arrested Oct. 24 in the French city of Lyon, French police reported, while using the name Abdallah Georges Ibrahim. He is being held in Lyon on charges of carrying a false passport.
The group has claimed responsibility for six attacks on U.S. and Israeli diplomats in France since 1981 that resulted in at least four deaths. French investigators have been quoted as saying they believed its membership was about a dozen people from a single Christian village in northern Lebanon.
Three employees of the French Embassy were kidnapped Friday in west Beirut, the Moslem sector of the capital. Jihad Islami, or Islamic Holy War, claimed responsibility for their abductions and those of an American journalist and two British nationals a week earlier.
The Revolutionary Factions statement added, ″We consider ourselves absolved of safeguarding the safety of the French diplomat 48 hours from the issuing of this statement, holding the French authorities responsible for whatever happens to Peyrolles and other Frenchmen in France and abroad.″
It also also warned Italian authorities ″to appreciate the seriousness of the matter and release our two comrades before it is too late.″ The statement identified them as Abdullah al-Mansouri and Josephine Abdo Sarkis.
Mrs. Sarkis, 26, was arrested in Rome in December when French and Italian police seized suspected members of the ″revolutionary factions.″ Al-Mansouri was arrested Aug. 6 in Trieste, Italy.
″We warn that we are still resorting to the simplest and most merciful forms of passive retaliation,″ the group’s statement said. ″Our future retaliation will be more severe and will bring catastrophe to inhabitants of Paris and Rome.″
Marc Bonnefous, a French Foreign Ministry official, arrived here Monday to help in the search for the three French citizens who disappeared Friday in west Beirut.
Marcel Fontaine, vice consul, was seized as he stopped to buy a newspaper on his way to work. Two other French Embassy employees - Marcel Carton, the protocol officer, and his daughter, Danielle Perez, a secretary at the embassy - did not report to work that day.
Four Westerners were kidnapped or reported missing the week before.
Three were abducted in west Beirut - British metallurgist Geoffrey Nash, taken March 14; British businessman Brian Levick, kidnapped March 15, and Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press, seized March 16.
A Dutch Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Nicholas Kluiters, disappeared March 14 in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, where several radical Shiite Moslem groups have their headquarters.
Anonymous telephone callers claiming to represent Islamic Holy War said it had kidnapped the three French Embassy employes, the two Britons and Anderson.
The organization is believed to be made up of fundamentalist Shiites with ties to Iran’s revolutionary patriarch, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Islamic Holy War also has said it was behind the bombings of the U.S. Embassy buildings in east and west Beirut in 1983 and 1984 that killed at least 75 people, and the truck bombs Oct. 23, 1983, at the U.S. and French military headquarters in Beirut that took the lives of nearly 300 servicemen.