The Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal said four members of a Belgian family held hostage since November 1987 had been freed and sent to "another Arab country" to meet relatives.
"The four (hostages) have been transferred to another Arab country and we have been assured of their safe arrival," Walid Khaled, spokesman of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told reporters at his office in the Palestinian refugee camp of Mar Elias in southern Beirut.The claimed release of the four Belgians was apparently part of a deal concluded with the Belgian government to free Nasser Saeed, an FRC member, jailed in Belgium on terrorist charges.
"The final details are being sorted out to hand them over to their families," Khaled said.
The FRC spokesman refused to disclose to where the freed captives were sent. But observers speculated that the destination was Libya.
The freed Belgians are Emmanuel Houtekins, 44, his wife Godelieve Kets, 39, and their two children Laurent, 19, and Valerie, 18.
"But the operation has not been completed yet. It will be concluded within 48 hours," Khaled said, adding that "the unconcluded part is related to our brother Nasser Saeed."
Saeed, an FRC member, is serving a life sentence in Belgium for a hand-grenade attack on a group of Jewish children in Antwerp in July 1980. One teenager was killed and a dozen other children injured.
Khaled indicated during the news conference that there would be a swap of the freed captives for Saeed in the undisclosed Arab country.
"We are waiting for the arrival of Nasser Saeed," Khaled said. "The Belgians were handed over to one Arab country where Saeed will be delivered too."