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Final member of NBC team free after Syria kidnap
Ian Rivers was part of the NBC team led by the network’s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel. They were kidnapped in Syria on Thursday, and Engel and several other members escaped unharmed on Monday.
He said he ended up getting released on his own “in the confusion of some type of handover.”
Masonhall said Rivers, a technical support staffer, was left without shoes and without communications gear, but found his way to safety and is thought to be in good condition. He will receive a medical evaluation, then travel on to the U.S. or the U.K.
Appearing on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday, an unshaven Engel said more than a dozen pro-regime gunmen dragged him and his colleagues from their car, killed one of their rebel escorts and subjected them to mock executions.
He said they escaped during a firefight Monday night between their captors and rebels at a checkpoint.
Engel said he believes the kidnappers were a Shiite militia group loyal to President Bashar Assad’s government, which has lost control over swaths of the country’s north and is increasingly on the defensive in a civil war that activists say has killed 40,000 people since March 2011.
“They kept us blindfolded, bound,” said the 39-year-old Engel, who speaks and reads Arabic. “We weren’t physically beaten or tortured. A lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed. They made us choose which one of us would be shot first and when we refused, there were mock shootings.”
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Syria is by far the deadliest country for the news media in 2012, with 28 journalists killed in combat or targeted for murder by government or opposition forces.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
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