Internal Security Forces said Thursday that four Australian nationals have been detained in Lebanon after they were suspected of abducting two young children from their father.
“The four Australians that have been detained in one of the police stations are under investigation for their alleged links to an operation to kidnap two children from the Amin family,” ISF chief Maj. Gen Ibrahim Basbous told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3).
The arrest of four Australian nationals, who work for a television crew, comes one day after two children were abducted early in the morning near Beirut. A security source told The Daily Star Wednesday that their abduction may have been linked to a family dispute and that their Australian mother was suspected of being involved in the incident.
The Australia Network News said that they were filming a mission concerned with the recovery of the two children, who were born to a Brisbane woman, but were taken to Lebanon by her ex-husband.
"We won't be giving out any more details, other than to say we are working with authorities to get them released and back home ASAP," Nine Network said.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Canberra was “urgently seeking to confirm the crew's whereabouts and welfare, and have offered all appropriate consular assistance."
Australian local media named those being held as reporter Tara Brown, producer Steven Rice and one or two camera operators.
Sally Faulkner, the Brisbane mother of the children reportedly has said their Lebanese father took them for a holiday and then allegedly refused to return them to Australia, Fairfax Media reported.
The source added that the children’s father, Ali al-Amin, had been granted custody after divorcing his wife. He moved from Australia to Lebanon, bringing the children with him upon her knowledge.
The source said that three gunmen in a silver Hyundai snatched the children, aged 4 and 6, from a bus stop in the Beirut suburb of Hadath where they were waiting with their grandmother around 7:30 a.m.
Ibtissam Berri, the children’s grandmother, explained to MTV TV station how the incident occurred.
She said that she had been holding her grandchild Noah's hand, while her maid was with his sister Lahela waiting for the school bus. Assailants then attacked them and snatched the children. The incident was recorded on surveillance cameras placed in the neighborhood.