Seven Red Cross workers kipnapped by gunmen in northern Syria

Abduction of six International Committee of the Red Cross workers and one volunteer took place in Idlib province

Gunmen kidnapped a team of seven workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross after stopping their convoy early on Sunday along a roadside in northern Syria, a spokesman said.

Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the ICRC in Damascus, said the abduction took place near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province at about 11.30am local time (08.30 GMT) as the team was returning to Damascus. Six of the people kidnapped are ICRC staff and one is a volunteer from the Syrian Red Crescent, he said.

Schorno declined to provide the nationalities of the six ICRC employees.

Syria’s state news agency, quoting an anonymous official, said the gunmen opened fire on the ICRC team’s four vehicles before seizing the Red Cross workers. The news agency blamed terrorists, a term the government uses to refer to those opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

Schorno said the team of seven had been in the field since October 10 to assess the medical situation in the area and to look at how to provide medical aid. He said the part of northern Syria where they were seized by definition is a difficult area to go in.

Much of the countryside in Idlib province, as well as the rest of northern Syria, has fallen into the hands of rebels over the past year and kidnappings have become rife, particularly of aid workers and foreign journalists. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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