Polish journalist kidnapped in Syria: activists

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 24, 2013 2:44 PM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A Polish journalist was taken hostage by Islamist militants in northwest Syria on Wednesday, opposition activists said.

Marcin Suder was abducted from an opposition media office in the rebel-held town of Saraqeb in Idlib province, activists from the area told Reuters.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said it had set up a team of specialists based in Warsaw and its embassies in the Middle East to deal with what it described as his "likely" kidnapping, but declined to comment on whether it would send anyone into Syria.

Suder was alone in Syria on assignment for, among others, the Polish photo agency Studio Melon, the agency said.

Paulina Okonska, Suder's fiancée, who also works with Studio Melon, told Reuters she had exchanged emails with Suder on Tuesday but could not confirm he had been kidnapped.

Syrian opposition activist Manhal Barish was beaten in the raid on the office, which activists said was conducted by a group of armed Islamists.

Moderate and hardline Islamist opposition groups have clashed repeatedly during the more than two-year conflict that the United Nations says has cost nearly 100,000 lives.

The militants also stole computers and money from the office, the activists said, adding that they believed some of the attackers were foreigners.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, with at least 39 killed and 21 kidnapped in 2012 by both rebels and government forces. Most kidnapped journalists have been released but several remain missing.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin in Beirut and Marcin Goettig in Warsaw; Editing by Alison Williams)