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Lebanon: Two Out, 21 to Go

1 minute read

The cars skidded to a halt near Beirut’s Summerland Hotel. Two men, dazed and disheveled, emerged. They turned out to be Jean-Louis Normandin, a French television technician who was kidnaped in March 1986, and Roger Auque, a journalist seized last January. Normandin had been held by the pro-Iran Revolutionary Justice Organization, but Auque’s abductors may have belonged to another group.

Why the hostages were released remains a mystery, though France clearly had advance word, and may have negotiated with the terrorists through Syria. Two days before the men were freed, a French official quietly arrived in Beirut, where he was joined by the French Ambassador to Syria. The next day the kidnapers announced that two French hostages would be released within 24 hours, thanks to “positive indications” from the French government. Paris denied that any deal had been made.

The Revolutionary Justice Organization still holds Americans Joseph Cicippio, 57, and Edward Tracy, 57, but there was no indication that they or any of the 19 other hostages, including six more Americans, still held captive in Lebanon would be released soon.

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