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Activist group says hundreds kidnapped in northwestern Syria

Last modified: 16 Feb 2013 15:43

An activist group says pro-government gunmen have kidnapped more than 300 people in northwestern Syria in retaliation for the abduction of 42 Shia Muslims this week.

The Britain-based Syrian says the tit-for-tat kidnappings in predominantly Sunni Muslim Idlib province could trigger sectarian clashes in the area.

The Observatory said the 42 Shia, mainly women and children, were snatched on Thursday from a bus that was traveling from the Shia villages of Foua and Kfarya to the capital Damascus.

Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman said Saturday it was not clear who kidnapped the Shia.

The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, called for the release of the women.

She said "allegations of abduction and rape of women and girls by armed groups have been received".

[AP]