[QODLink]
Middle East

Three Red Cross workers still held in Syria

Four of seven aid workers freed by gunmen as rising number of kidnappings reduces foreign presence in the country.

Last Modified: 14 Oct 2013 21:22
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Officials have said a Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer and three of six Red Cross staffers taken hostage in Syria are free and safe.

Robert Mardini, the International Committee of the Red Cross' head of operations for the Middle East, said on Twitter that the four were released "safe and sound."

The ICRC's Geneva office confirmed the tweet was accurate, but provided no more details Monday.

Gunmen abducted the seven on Sunday after stopping their convoy in northwestern Syria.

The incident highlights an increasing problem within Syria as kidnappings are on the rise. The growing risk of kidnappings means that foreign staff have reduced their presence within the country. 

The security situation has got much worse in recent months, especially in August, given the rise of the influence of extremist groups directly linked to al Qaeda," said Jitka Korenkova, who works for the Czech People in Need, one of the few aid groups working in Aleppo city, in north Syria.

Growing security issues

Hours after the kidnapping of aid workers a car bomb exploded in the town of Darkoush, a rebel-held town in Idlib province, killing 39 people and injuring dozens of others.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the toll was expected to rise due to the large number of people who suffered serious injuries.

A video posted by activists online showed the aftermath of the blast, with at least one car ablaze and the ground around it covered in smoking embers.

A second video showed residents carrying bodies on makeshift stretchers and extensive damage to buildings around the blast site.

"The area is controlled by rebels; government forces were pushed out months ago. There are no claims of responsibility," said Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, the capital of neighbouring Lebanon. "There's still a lot of insecurity in the north, even though most of that area is held by the rebels."

336

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.