BEIRUT, Lebanon – Four Lebanese (search) citizens working as truck drivers are missing in Iraq, Lebanese officials said Friday, bring to five the number of Lebanese citizens either unaccounted for or held captive by insurgents.
A Foreign Ministry official said the government was trying to learn if the four had been kidnapped. The official said the men were driving separate trucks and had not been heard from for more than 24 hours.
Earlier this week, gunmen snatched Lebanese businessman Antoine Antoun (search) in a Baghdad street. His fate is not known.
Another Lebanese hostage, Vladimir Damaa (search), was freed unharmed this week when Iraqi police raided his kidnappers' hideout in an operation that ended with the arrest of three terror suspects.
Hundreds of Lebanese, mainly construction workers and businessmen, have gone to Iraq to look for opportunities in postwar reconstruction. Several have been kidnapped and released this year, sometimes after the payment of ransom. At least one Lebanese hostage, Hussein Alyan, was shot dead and his body dumped beside a road.
Most prominent among the Lebanese hostages was U.S. Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, who failed to report for duty in Iraq on June 20 and appeared on a videotape that showed him apparently kidnapped, blindfolded with a sword hanging over his head.
He emerged unharmed at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on July 8 and was flown back to the United States. It has not been disclosed how he traveled from Iraq to Lebanon, where he was born and had relatives. Hassoun denied he deserted and was returned to the United States.