National 14.1.2017 12:58 pm

South African photojournalist kidnapped in Syria

Shiraaz Mohamed. Image via Facebook.

Shiraaz Mohamed. Image via Facebook.

A South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed has been kidnapped in Syria and is still missing after four days.

This despite promises that he would be released within two days, humanitarian aid group Gift of the Givers said on Saturday.

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said in a text message that he had been in touch with his teams in Syria and according to them the kidnapping took place at 3.45pm on Tuesday near the charity’s Al Hilal hospital on the Aljamiliye Road.

“Shiraaz was on his way with two of our people to the Turkish border on his way out of Syria. They took the road they normally take when transporting patients by ambulance. It’s a relatively safe route. There’s never been an incident here in all these years.

“When they passed the Gift of the Givers Al Hilal hospital two cars suddenly boxed them in. Our driver hooted at them to move out of the way. A few men with guns got off, they were very calm, and came to the car. They opened the doors‚ put a gun to the head of our two people, and looked at Shiraaz.

“Our people told them not to take Shiraaz as it could harm support for the hospital. They replied that they think that there is some misunderstanding and that they need to question him and will return him in two days‚” he said.

“They the blindfolded the three of them and drove for about an hour. Within five minutes of them taking off from the point of capture, one of our people’s cellphone rang. They confiscated it.

“At the end of an hour they stopped at a certain point and got off. They asked if Shiraaz is a foreigner. Our people replied yes. They asked if he has a passport. They said yes. They asked if he’s Muslim they said yes. They asked about the Turkish delegation that entered Syria earlier that day. They said they don’t know. They asked about Dr Ahmad who heads the Gift of the Givers Hospital. They said everyone knows him because he helps everyone.

“They then released the two and returned the cellphone. When our two asked who they were, they said they represent all groups inside Syria. When our two asked where they were now, they gave the name of the area and precise location (I can’t mention it for now). Our [guys] said don’t harm Shiraaz because he is a guest.

“They said they only want to question him and will return him in two days to the Gift of the Givers Ar Rahma Hospital. They want to clear a misunderstanding. What misunderstanding we don’t know‚” Sooliman said.

He said he would inform the international relations and co-operation department about the incident on Saturday.

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