A Saudi citizen was kidnapped in the Lebanese capital Beirut overnight on Saturday.
The kidnappers have demanded a ransom of $400,000, while caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi has vowed that they will be severely punished for their crime.
The Saudi embassy in Beirut confirmed the kidnapping from the victim’s relatives, who said they had lost contact with him early on Sunday.
The Lebanese authorities are carrying out contacts on the highest levels to uncover his whereabouts.
The man works for Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia).
A Saudi diplomatic source in Beirut described the development as “very dangerous”. The Saudi embassy is closely working with local authorities to find him.
Initial reports said the man was kidnapped on the airport road in Beirut, while Lebanese security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was abducted in a central district of the capital.
Saudi state-run Al Ekhbariya television said he was nabbed after he left a restaurant in the waterfront Zaituna Bay area.
The kidnappers had followed him in their vehicles and were wearing military outfits. They took him to Beirut’s southern suburbs of Dahieh, a Hezbollah stronghold, it added.
In a phone message, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $400,000.
Mawlawi said the Internal Security Forces’ intelligence bureau was probing the case and that authorities were in close contact with Saudi Ambassador Waleed Bukhari.
“What happened harms Lebanon’s relations with its brothers,” he added. “The perpetrators will be harshly punished.”
In remarks to Al Arabiya television, the minister revealed that the Saudi national’s telephone could be traced to various locations in Beirut and that he was “well”.
Grand Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan strongly condemned the kidnapping and “all other abductions that have targeted Arabs, especially Saudi brothers.”
He called on Lebanese authorities to strike with an iron fist and put an end to “this dangerous game.”
He warned that gangs and mafias were seeking to destabilize the country for petty goals.