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Turkish Airlines staff kidnapped in Lebanon

Two Turkish Airlines employees have been abducted by gunmen while leaving Beirut's airport in Lebanon. There has been no immediate explanation or claim of responsibility.

Security officials say the two male airline employees, both Turkish nationals, were seized by gunmen at around 3 a.m. (0000 GMT) as they were travelling in a vehicle with other Turkish Airlines crew members from the Beirut International Airport to a hotel.

"We immediately contacted the Lebanese authorities at every level ... and they are conducting a very comprehensive investigation," Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu said.

"As yet, we do not know who did it or for what purpose," he said.

He added that the rest of the crew were safe in a Beirut hotel and will return to Turkey as soon as possible.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however the incident is likely related to the conflict in neighboring Syria. Turkey is a strong backer of the Syrian rebels while Lebanese Shiites support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

In May 2012, a rebel group abducted several Lebanese Shiites in northern Syria, nine of which are still missing.

The families of those captured last year have demanded that Ankara use its influence to take greater steps to secure the release of their relatives.

hc/ipj(Reuters, AFP, AP)