It is widely believed a ransom was paid for the cyclists' release
Seven Estonian cyclists who were kidnapped in Lebanon in March appear on the balcony of the French embassy in Beirut. Syria has arrested a top suspect in the kidnapping of seven Estonians, freed four months after their abduction in Lebanon, and handed him over to Beirut, a security official said. © - AFP
It is widely believed a ransom was paid for the cyclists' release
AFP
Last updated: November 2, 2011

Syria hands over suspect in Estonian kidnappings to Lebanon

Syria has arrested a top suspect in the kidnapping of seven Estonians, freed four months after their abduction in Lebanon, and handed him over to Beirut, a security official said on Wednesday.

"We are currently holding Wael Abbas for interrogation after Syrian authorities handed him over hours ago and we confirmed his identity," the official said, declining to give further details on Abbas' identity.

Lebanon's police chief Ashraf Rifi has said Abbas was the mastermind behind the kidnapping in March of seven Estonians, who were abducted at gunpoint while cycling in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley.

The seven were freed unharmed in July. It is widely believed a ransom was paid for their release but the Estonian government has refused to confirm the reports.

Two men suspected of involvement in the kidnapping were killed in a September 20 shootout with police who have warned the gang behind the abduction could still be operating in Lebanon.

Lebanon's Bekaa Valley is notorious for lawlessness, drug trafficking and feuding tribal clans, and patrols by security forces have regularly come under attack there.

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