| 14.07,11. 05:44 PM |
7 kidnapped Estonian cyclists released in Lebanon
Seven kidnapped Estonians were freed Thursday almost four months since being abducted by armed men shortly after entering Lebanon on a bicycle tour from neighbouring Syria, a police official said.
"The seven were returned to the town of Arsal (in the eastern Bekaa Valley) and appear to be in good health," the official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the press.
"They are now on their way to Beirut," he added. "We will have more information when they arrive."
The seven Estonian men, all in their 30s, were kidnapped on March 23.
The case had for months been shrouded in mystery, but several people were arrested in Lebanon in connection with the kidnapping.
The Estonians were shown appealing for help in videos posted on the Internet on April 20 and May 20 before a third video was sent to their relatives on July 8.
In the first video, the seven called on the leaders of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and France -- but not Estonia -- to help them.
They did not present any demands on behalf of their captors nor did they specify what country they were in.
Sources said that investigators at the time determined that the video was uploaded in the Syrian capital Damascus, leading to speculation that the men were moved across the border from Lebanon.