Lebanon soldier held by jihadists freed: army



BEIRUT- A Lebanese soldier kidnapped two weeks ago by jihadists near the Syrian border was freed late Tuesday, a military spokesman told AFP.
The spokesman, who confirmed the release on condition of anonymity, said Kamal al-Hujairi had been visiting his family when he was kidnapped in mid-September.



A security source said Hujairi was kidnapped while visiting his family in the Wadi Hmeid area, on the outskirts of the eastern border town of Arsal.
It was not immediately clear which group had been holding him, or why he was freed.
Jihadists from the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front fought battles with Lebanese troops in Arsal in August.
They withdrew after a truce to the mountains outside the town, but took several dozen army and police hostages with them as they left.
The released soldier was not among that group of hostages, three of whom have since been executed.
The families of the kidnapped soldiers and police have grown increasingly desperate, and have held daily protests throughout the country, blocking roads in a bid to draw attention to the plight of their relatives.
Negotiations for the release of the security forces kidnapped in August are ongoing, and Lebanese local media reported Tuesday that a Qatari delegation had resumed efforts to secure their safe return.
Lebanese troops have continued to fight jihadists on the outskirts of Arsal, and an attack on a military patrol in the area killed two soldiers and wounded three others on September 19.
Syria's conflict has regularly spilled over into Lebanon since it began in March 2011, and has stoked tensions among its population.
Many of Lebanon's Sunni community, including in Arsal, back the Syrian uprising, while many Shiite Lebanese, including the powerful Hezbollah movement, support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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Wednesday, October 1st 2014
AFP
           


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