BEIRUT — An underground group believed made up of pro-Iranian Shia Muslim fundamentalists today promised the imminent release of some of its French hostages, but a deadline passed with no sign of the men.
The Revolutionary Justice Organization sent two handwritten Arabic statements to the Beirut office of a Western news agency today. The first statement said the release would be within 48 hours and the second said it would take place at 7:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. PST) at the Hotel Beaurivage near the headquarters of Syrian army observers in Muslim West Beirut.
However, scores of reporters and photographers assembled in and around the hotel said the deadline passed without a hostage release.
French Diplomat Arrives
About 25 minutes after the deadline, a French diplomat arrived with three bodyguards in a bullet-proof embassy car. A bodyguard stepped out and said French ambassador Christian Graeff had instructed them to take delivery of any freed hostages.
"We will wait," said the guard, who refused to give his name or the identity of the French diplomat.
The first Revolutionary Justice statement said the imminent release of "some French hostages" in Lebanon was a result of Algerian and Syrian mediation.
The group has claimed responsibility for kidnaping three Frenchmen and two Americans in Muslim West Beirut.