Lebanese TV shows footage of abducted Turkish pilots

Two Turkish pilots abducted in Beirut two months ago appear in video broadcast by Lebanese television, saying they are both well and want to return home.

In the 30-second extract shown on LBC television, the two men identified themselves as Murat Akpinar and his co-pilot Murat Agca.

They were seized from a bus leaving Beirut airport on Aug. 9 in an abduction apparently linked to the detention in northern Syria of nine Lebanese Shi’ite Muslims, whose families accuse Turkey of doing too little to win their release.

A statement issued after the pilots’ capture said the two men would be kept as “guests” until the nine Lebanese men, captive for nearly a year and a half, were released.

“I am safe and sound. I miss my family, my children and my country,” Agca said in the video. “I would like to be at my home, I am fine,” Akpinar said. Both men, talking in English, said they were speaking on Monday.

A source in Beirut who has closely followed the case of the missing pilots said last week he believed the men were being well treated.

The Lebanese detainees were among a group of 11 captured in May last year by Syrian Sunni Muslim rebels in the northern town of Azaz, close to Turkey.

They were seized on their return from a pilgrimage to Shi’ite religious sites in Iran, their families said. Two were later released. Their captors have made several demands, including the release by Syrian authorities of more than 100 women prisoners.

* Reuters