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2 More Foreigners Kidnaped in W. Beirut; Believed Polish

January 26, 1987|Associated Press

BEIRUT — Four gunmen today kidnaped two young men from an office equipment store in Muslim West Beirut and one witness said the victims were foreigners, possibly Poles, who spoke broken English.

Police said they had no word on the fate of three Americans and an Indian whose abduction from Beirut University College on Saturday was claimed on behalf of a Shia Muslim group by anonymous callers who threatened to kill the captives if the United States did not meet certain demands.

Before today's kidnapings, 23 foreigners were missing and believed kidnaped in Lebanon, including eight seized since Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite arrived in Beirut on Jan. 12 on a mission to free Western hostages.

Waite remained out of sight for the seventh day today in what his bodyguards have said were secret talks with kidnapers of two Americans held since 1985.

Four gunmen abducted the two latest kidnap victims from the Najjar Continental Store in the Sanayeh residential district at 11:30 a.m. today. Police did not identify the kidnap victims or give their nationalities.

'Definitely Foreigners'

A witness said two gunmen "jumped out of a white Mercedes-Benz, pointed pistols at the two men and dragged them" out of the store. The witness said the victims spoke broken English.

An employee at the store said the two victims were "definitely foreigners."

"They are familiar to me, they used to pass by us to photocopy documents, they always spoke broken English," she said.

The employee said she did not know the nationality of the victims but thought they might be from Poland. "I knew them for a while as Poles. I cannot recall exactly why, but assume they were first introduced to me as Poles."

The two were kidnaped as students of Beirut University College demonstrated outside Prime Minister Rashid Karami's office, a few blocks from the Najjar Continental Store, to protest the kidnaping Saturday of four educators by gunmen disguised as police.

Radio Station Called

The Christian-controlled Voice of Lebanon radio said it received two calls Sunday claiming responsibility for the teachers' abductions in the name of the pro-Iranian Organization of the Oppressed on Earth.

The three Americans kidnaped Saturday were Alann Steen, 47, a journalism professor who formerly taught at three Northern California colleges; Jesse Turner, 39, an Idaho native, assistant instructor of mathematics and computer sciences, and Robert Polhill, 53, assistant professor of business studies.

The Indian was identified as Mithileshwar Singh, chairman of the business studies division, with status in the United States as a legal resident alien.

Hostage Slaying Threatened

The Voice of Lebanon said the first call it received Sunday said the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth would kill a hostage if West Germany did not free a Lebanese hijacking suspect, Mohammed Ali Hamadi. Hamadi was arrested in Frankfurt on Jan. 13.

U.S. officials want to try Hamadi on charges of air piracy and murder in the June, 1985, hijacking of a TWA jetliner to Beirut. A U.S. Navy diver on the plane was killed and 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days.

The second caller said a hostage would die if Hamadi was not released by midnight Sunday. He did not specify if he was referring to the four teachers or other hostages his group claims to hold, but an employee at the radio station said he understood the threat was not directed specifically at the Americans.

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