Turkey has called on its citizens to leave Lebanon following the abduction of two pilots working for the Turkish Airlines in the Lebanese capital Beirut.
"Given the current situation, it is vital that our citizens avoid all travel to Lebanon," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Friday. "We suggest that citizens who are still in Lebanon return to Turkey if they can, or if they have to remain, to take all measures to ensure their personal safety and be vigilant," it added. The ministry said Ankara expected the Lebanese government to take "all necessary measures" to ensure the safety of Turkish citizens in the country. Gunmen kidnapped the pilots in a pre-dawn ambush on a bus carrying members of a Turkish Airlines crew from Beirut airport to Beirut's Radisson Martinez hotel. Lebanese authorities immediately launched an investigation into the abduction. There has been no claim of responsibility for the kidnapping so far. However, there are speculations that the abduction could be linked to the case of nine Lebanese Shia pilgrims who were kidnapped in Syria’s Aleppo in May 2012. Some of those pilgrims have been released, but most are still held captive. Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has been supporting militants fighting to topple the Syrian government since the Arab country plunged into unrest in March 2011.