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Swiss police investigating Hezbollah kidnapping claim

Hezbollah chief, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said an Israeli colonel had been seized.

(Keystone / AP Photo / Str)

Swiss police are investigating claims by the radical Islamic group, Hezbollah, that they kidnapped an Israeli army officer in Switzerland. Hezbollah made the announcement on the eve of a last-ditch summit between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Israeli authorities confirmed on Sunday that a businessman, who is also an army reservist, had been kidnapped in Europe.

Hezbollah announced it had seized the man as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders were preparing for a last-ditch peace summit in Egypt. President Clinton is scheduled to join the two leaders in a bid to prevent an all-out war between the two sides.

The Swiss authorities said they said they could not confirm the kidnapping, but that an investigation was underway.

Police spokesman, Rolf Debrunner, told swissinfo he had heard reports that an Israeli businessman, who was a reservist army officer, had recently visited Switzerland. "We have heard reports of the name, Elhanan Tenenbaum, a businessman... but it is not clear whether this is one and the same person."

Israel radio said a 54-year-old man, of the same name, had been kidnapped in Lausanne 10 days ago, adding that he worked for the Israeli companies, Tadiran and Rafael, which produce civilian and military electronic equipment.

A senior Hezbollah official in Beirut told swissinfo the man who was kidnapped was working for the Israeli secret service, and posing as a businessman in Europe. But he said he could have been kidnapped in either Germany or Switzerland.

Lebanese sources were quoted as saying the captured man may be an Israeli Jew of Arab descent, working for Israeli intelligence, who was seeking to get information about three Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah a week ago.

swissinfo with agencies

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