By Patrick Falk,
International News Writer
Five Czech nationals who had previously been reported missing were discovered by Lebanese security forces on Monday, Feb. 1. The nationals, who remain unidentified, disappeared in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon in July of this year.
According to Reuters, an empty vehicle containing documents and money from the five nationals was later found in the valley. An investigation into the disappearance was launched immediately by Lebanese security forces amidst fears of kidnapping.
As reported by the BBC, a statement released by the Czech foreign ministry reported that all five Czech nationals remain in “satisfactory health,” and that a plane has been sent to bring the nationals home after their ordeal. The Czech foreign ministry has yet to confirm the status of the Lebanese driver that was accompanied by the five Czech nationals.
There has been some speculation on whether or not the disappearance of the five Czech nationals was an act of retaliation or just a random occurrence.
Reports at the time of the disappearance attempted to draw a connection between the missing Czechs and a Lebanese man who had been held in the Czech Republic at the time on charges of smuggling arms and drugs to FARC in Colombia, according to the BBC.
Regions to the east of the Bekaa Valley have been known for other disappearances among tourists. The most recent incident involving missing tourists in Lebanon prior to the Czech nationals’ disappearance occurred when seven Estonian cyclists were kidnapped in 2011 and held for four months.
The area is also notorious for drug trafficking and other instances of foul play.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 9th print edition.
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