Ransom likely motive for reporter kidnapping in Syria: Polish PM

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 26, 2013 12:06 PM
Ransom likely motive for reporter kidnapping in Syria: Polish PM

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish journalist Marcin Suder was probably taken hostage by a particularly radical and dangerous group of militants in Syria seeking ransom, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Friday.

Suder was abducted by Islamist militants in northwest Syria from an opposition media office in the rebel-held town of Saraqeb in Idlib province, activists from the area told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We have received initial information that it is quite likely that the motive for the kidnapping has the character of a robbery," Tusk said at a press conference.

"The information that we have received tells us that the group that decided to abduct the Pole is one of the most dangerous and radical," Tusk added.

Activists said on Wednesday that the militants also stole computers and money from the office, adding activist Manhal Barish was beaten by them in the raid.

Tusk said Poland would use all available means to free Suder as soon as possible.

"We have our options, means and friends who will be ready to help us," he said.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski discussed the issue with his Turkish counterpart on Thursday and the ministry said earlier it had set up a team of specialists based in Warsaw and its embassies in the Middle East to deal with the case.

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

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 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 Marcin Goettig; editing by Mike Collett-White)