The Turkish Foreign Ministry has warned citizens against non-essential travel to Lebanon and called those already in the country to return home after gunmen abducted a Turkish Airlines captain and his assistant pilot in Beirut on Friday.

Lebanese media said that a group claimed responsibility for the abduction in the name of nine Lebanese Shi’ite Muslims kidnapped near the Turkish-Syrian border last year, saying the two Turks would be freed if the Lebanese captives were released.

Following the incident, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said he had spoken with the Lebanese prime minister about the abductions.

“As in previous such cases we are making every effort to reunite the pilots with their families safely,” Davutoğlu said on his Twitter account.

Friday’s incident came days after a senior Lebanese political source said that authorities had information suggesting that families of the Lebanese detainees, or their supporters, were planning to take Turkish hostages.

Lebanese media quoted a spokesman for the families as saying they had no link to the Beirut abductions. But shortly after the claim of responsibility was issued, celebratory fireworks were set off in the Bir al-Abed district of southern Beirut, where some of the relatives live.

source:  http://www.todayszaman.com