Hope in search for remains of Briton kidnapped during Lebanon civil war

Hope in search for remai

Experts searching for the remains of a British hostage kidnapped during Lebanon's civil war discovered on Tuesday the remains of two people in an area where he was believed to have been buried, Lebanese security officials said. The search for British writer Alec Collett began this week in the eastern Bekaa Valley, which during the 1975-90 civil war was a lawless region of banditry and kidnapping. Collett, who was 63 at the time, was kidnapped in southern Beirut on March 25, 1985 while on assignment for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which cares for Palestinian refugees. His kidnappers said they killed him a year later. At least 88 foreigners were taken hostage between 1984 and 1990, including 17 Americans, by the various factions in Lebanon's bitter civil war. The security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the two bodies were discovered near the village of Aita al-Foukhar. Samples of the remains have been sent to Beirut for DNA tests to see if they are Collett's. It is not the first time that authorities, acting on a tip, have dug through the earth of eastern Lebanon looking for Collett's body. Police officials said years earlier several sites in the then Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley were explored in the search for Collett's body. The Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims claimed it hanged Collett and issued videotape showing him dangling from a gallows. The group was one of the names used by followers of Palestinian militant leader Abu Nidal. A member of Nidal's group shot Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov on June 3, 1982. Argov was attacked while leaving a reception at the Dorchester Hotel in central London, an incident which led to Israel's invasion of Lebanon. The critically wounded ambassador survived, but was left paralyzed and required constant medical attention for the rest of his life. Argov died in February 2003. Nidal died in Iraq in 2002.