World Bulletin / News Desk
Lebanese Shi'ite gunmen who kidnapped more than 20 people said on Thursday they would kill a Turkish hostage first if their kinsman captured by rebels in Syria was hurt and said they were looking to seize more Turkish citizens.
The Meqdad clan says it is seeking to put pressure on the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to release Hassan al-Meqdad by targeting both Syrians it says are part of the rebel force and citizens of Turkey, one of the rebels' regional sponsors. The clan is holding one Turk and the rest of its captives are Syrians.
The kidnapping has evoked memories of Lebanon's own civil war, reinforcing fears that the Syria conflict could trigger more instability in a much smaller neighbour where Damascus has had a major influence over politics and security for decades.
A member of the Meqdad family was quoted on Wednesday as saying citizens of Qatar and Saudi Arabia were also on their list of potential targets. In response, Gulf states ordered their citizens to leave Lebanon.
But Maher al-Meqdad, the spokesman for the clan, said the Meqdads were only targeting the FSA and Turks, adding that the number of Turkish captives "was likely to rise".
"If Hassan (al-Meqdad) is killed, the first hostage we will kill is the Turk," Maher al-Meqdad told Reuters.
"Regarding Saudis, Qataris and Gulf nationals, they are not targets for the Meqdad clan," said Maher al-Meqdad, speaking in an area of southern Beirut controlled by Hezbollah.
The clan says Hezbollah has nothing to do with the kidnappings.
The Turkish hostage was interviewed after his abduction on Wednesday by a Lebanese television channel. He said he had come to Lebanon for a business trip.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it was in contact with the family of the kidnapped Turk, who it named as Aydin Tufan Tekin.
"Our ministry and Beirut Embassy are continuing intensive efforts to secure the release unharmed of our kidnapped citizen," it said in a statement released late on Wednesday
Meqdad said Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour had been in touch to seek the release of the Turk, but added that he would not be released until Hassan al-Meqdad was freed.
"Our adversary is only the Free Syrian Army," he said. "We want our relative."
Abdullah Ocalan still exerts influence from his prison cell.
Describing the call on PKK to lay down arms as a key expectation of the Turkish government, Erdogan nevertheless cautions against the terrorist group's failure to deliver
Turkish president to meet with Saudi King on March 2nd after visiting the holiest sites in Islam in Mecca and Medina
About invitation to find common ground on PKK’s disarmament, Turkish PM Davutoglu says, it will pave the way for a democratic policy in Turkey.
Turkey’s literary giant, Yasar Kemal, passes away aged 92.
"On the one hand you say EU acquis, but on the other hand you take steps which totally oppose EU acquis,” Turkish president says.
The Feb. 28 coup wrought havoc on observant Muslims, in particular, who were subjected to a series of rights violations and profiling efforts by the military and the state
Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has invited on his followers to attend a conference on disarmament, a crucial step in Turkey's drive to end a 30-year insurgency with Kurdish militants, in the forthcoming spring.
Turkish President Erdogan has lately been pushing for a presidential system to replace the current parliamentary one.
The €920 million program aims to provide in Turkey a high level of quality and sustainable employment; and will guarantee decent social protection.
Thomas Melia, US deputy assistant secretary of state, expressed concern about additional authority given to police in new security draft bill.
Akyurek was charged with negligence on the job at the time of the Turkish-Armenian journalist's murder.
Central Bank Governor Erdem Basci appeared to dismiss any suggestion that he might resign, saying that public duty should be performed for the full period in which it is assigned
The new 6.5 km undersea tunnel will reduce travel time between the two sides of Istanbul via metro and highway lines to 14 minutes.
Turkey has chosen a Chinese company as the preferred bidder for the $3.4 billion project but is also pressing ahead with talks with U.S. and European firms as questions remain about the Chinese proposal