Red Cross workers abducted in Idlib, Syria | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 13.10.2013
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Middle East

Red Cross workers abducted in Idlib, Syria

Gunmen have kidnapped Red Cross workers in Syria, state media reported. However, SANA did not give more details, including the nationalities of those held. Separately, two car bombs have exploded in Damascus.

The state news agency SANA reported that workers traveling in the Idlib area found their path blocked by gunmen who shot at their convoy, seized them and took them to an unknown location.

"An armed terrorist group today kidnapped a number of workers in the mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria," SANA reported, using a term the government frequently applies to rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Humanitarian workers face difficult conditions in Syria. The Red Cross reported last month that 22 of its workers had died in Syria since the country's conflict started in March 2011 as a series of peaceful protests against the government. The conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives in two and a half years.

A spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed that seven of its aid workers had been kidnapped on Sunday.

"Six ICRC members and one Syrian Red Crescent member have gone missing in an alleged kidnapping on their way back from Idlib to Damascus," the ICRC's Lebanon spokeswoman, Samar el Kadi, told the news agency AFP.

Car bombs in the capital

Two suicide car bombs exploded in the center of the capital, Damascus, near a government television and radio building on Sunday. SANA reported that "terrorists" had set off the two suicide car bombs close to Ummayad Square in central Damascus, causing damage to the General Authority for Television and Radio. There were no reported casualties.

Syrian television showed footage of what appeared to be two burning vehicles, a fire engine and images from inside a nearby building where windows had been blown out.

On Sunday, relief workers evacuated hundreds of civilians from a rebel-held town near Damascus that government troops have besieged for months, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced. According to the Britain-based nongovernmental organization, the evacuation came under an agreement between humanitarian groups and Syrian authorities to help evacuate civilians trapped in the town, Madhamiyat al-Sham. The blockaded town has suffered shortages of medical and food supplies and at least two children died from malnutrition-related diseases in August, the Observatory reported.

mkg/hc (Reuters, dpa)