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Kuwait Says Three Citizens Abducted In Syria

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[April 10, 2014]  KUWAIT (Reuters)  Kuwait said three of its citizens have been kidnapped in Syria and it has asked Turkey for help in trying to secure their release.

It was not clear why the Kuwaitis were in Syria or who abducted them. Some Gulf Arab citizens have entered Syria to join rebels fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

"There were three Kuwaitis kidnapped in Syria. The Foreign Ministry is following this matter," Kuwait's undersecretary for foreign affairs Khaled al-Jarallah told reporters late on Wednesday.

Kuwait has been in contact with authorities in Turkey, which borders Syria, to try to secure their release, he said.

Kuwait's al-Anbaa newspaper reported on Thursday that the kidnappers had asked for a ransom of 1 million euros ($1.38 million) and that the three Kuwaitis may have already been transferred to Turkey.

Unlike other Sunni Muslim-ruled states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Kuwait has not supported sending arms to rebels in Syria fighting to topple Assad.

However, Kuwaiti citizens have organized private fundraising campaigns in homes and on social media, something Kuwait says is difficult to control.

While many of the campaigns have been for humanitarian aid, some have openly called for funds to arm rebel fighters.

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The issue is sensitive in major oil producer Kuwait, a U.S. ally that allows more public debate and political meetings than other Gulf Arab states.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westalll; editing by Susan Fenton)

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