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Gunmen nab Finnish UN observer in Golan

Four military observers were released unharmed -- but with little clue as to why or by whom they were captured.

Israelin ja Syyrian välinen raja.
The observers were kidnapped near the Syrian-Israeli frontier for unknown reasons.

A Finnish military observer was abducted with two colleagues for several hours on Wednesday in the Golan Heights, near the border between Syria and Israel.

Four armed men broke into the observers’ unarmed base around 2.30 in the morning and forced the three men to leave with them. The abductees were returned unharmed around 7am, say the Finnish Defence Forces. The observers had been taken about one and a half kilometres away from their base, but were able to negotiate their freedom.

The kidnappers’ identities and motive remain unclear.

The military observers are part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), established in 1948, which is supervising an armistice between Israel and Syria. There are now 15 Finnish observers taking part in the operation.

Similar abductions have taken place in the Golan area. Earlier this month, four Filipino UN peacekeepers were taken hostage by a group calling itself the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade. They were freed after five days.

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