DUBAI/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia asked its diplomatic staff in Lebanon to stay home after a Saudi national was abducted in Beirut on Sunday, Saudi media reported on Monday.
The man, who works for Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), was kidnapped in the commercial district of the Lebanese capital, Saudi state-run Al Ekhbariya television said.
Lebanese security forces are following the case and have informed the Saudi ambassador in Beirut, Lebanon’s Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said on Twitter.
“So far, the reason for the kidnapping or disappearance has not been revealed,” a Lebanese security source told Reuters, adding that reports about a ransom are being investigated.
Al Ekhbariya said the kidnappers asked for a $400,000 ransom.
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Mawlawi said “what happened affects Lebanon’s relationship with its brotherly (countries); the perpetrators will be punished harshly.”
Saudi and Lebanese ties have suffered in recent years because of the dominance of the Iran-backed Hezbollah over the Lebanese establishment.
Lebanon has witnessed a rise in crime since 2019 when the country’s economic system crashed under the weight of state corruption and mismanagement by the ruling elites.
Lebanon’s currency has also collapsed crippling the banking system.
(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah and Maya Gebeily; Editing by Richard Chang)
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