Saturday, November 21, 2009

Remains found in hunt for missing journalist

A forensics team searching for the body of a British journalist kidnapped by Palestinian militants more than 20 years ago recovered human remains in Lebanon, the Foreign Office said today.

British experts excavating a site in the Bekaa Valley reportedly dug up two bodies, one of which is undergoing DNA testing to determine if it is Alec Collett, who was abducted in 1985 during the civil war in Lebanon.

The other body is said to be that of an unidentified man who was first discovered during an earlier attempt to find Mr Collett.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm that unidentified human remains have been recovered. The operation is continuing."

Mr Collett, then 64, was on assignment in Palestinian refugee camps for the UN Relief and Works Agency when he was snatched at gunpoint in Beirut.

The following year the Abu Nidal Organisation (ANO), a militant arm of the Palestinian Fatah Movement, claimed to have killed him in retaliation for US air raids on Libya.

A video was released showing the hanging of a hooded figure said to be Mr Collett but the victim was never officially identified.

A spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said: "There is new forensic information. New remains have been found and are being identified. We are in touch with the family and they will be the first to know if there are any new developments. "UNRWA and the entire UN family remember Alec Collett, paying homage to him every year at UN Headquarters in New York on the day of solidarity for detained and missing humanitarian workers."

Hat tip to Rosamond Hutt, Press Association

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