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Group Claimed Seized in Gulf May Be Belgians From France

November 09, 1987|United Press International

BEIRUT — Members of a Belgian family living in France may be the hostages who a radical Palestinian group claims to have kidnaped from a yacht off the coast of Israel, the Belgian government said today.

The Belgian Foreign Ministry in Brussels said it had the names of a family similar to those released by the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which claimed Sunday to have kidnaped the family. The group led by the notorious Abu Nidal said it captured a boat carrying six Israeli adults and two children.

But Israeli officials denied that the names released by the group were those of Israeli citizens.

Belgium said it had no independent confirmation of the incident, but it identified a Belgian family living in Lyon, France, as having similar names as those released by the Palestinian groups.

The Foreign Ministry identified the family as Emmanuel Houtekins, 42; his wife, Godelieve Kets, 48; son Laurent, 17; daughter Valerie, 16; and Houtekins' brother, Fernand, 40.

A statement released Sunday in Beirut identified a sixth passenger on board the vessel as Jasqueline Valente, who the group said holds dual French and Israeli nationality.

Two Hebrew-speaking children also were aboard the ship and were taken hostage, the group said.

The Fatah Revolutionary Council claimed that one of its "naval units" captured the boat as a "slap" at Jordan's King Hussein, who is hosting the Arab League summit that opened in Amman. Summit participants want to forge a unified stance against Iran in its 7-year-old Persian Gulf war against Iraq and Hussein is pushing for an international peace conference to settle Israeli-Arab disputes.

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