Gunmen abducted an elderly British national in Syrian-policed Moslem west Beirut, and a previously unknown group Saturday claimed responsibility in a statement demanding a speedy trial or release of Palestinians held in Britain.

Briton Jack Mann, 74, was the second foreigner to be kidnapped in less than 10 days in Lebanon, where 16 other foreigners, including nine Americans and three Britons, are believed held hostage by extremists loyal to Iran.Mann's wife Sunny said her husband disappeared Friday.

"Jack left home at 11 a.m. Friday, heading to the nearby British Bank, and was never seen since," Sunny told reporters at her residence in the Rasheh neighborhood in west Beirut.

Sunny, when asked in another interview late Saturday whether she believed her husband was kidnapped, said, "My feeling is that, yes, I think so. He has nobody to visit. So where he would be for 24 hours and more?"

She said that her husband drove in his car to the British Bank, but that he has disappeared along with the car. "We heard that he got to the bank and cashed his check and left the bank, but after that there seems to be no knowledge to where he went."

It was learned late Saturday that the group that claimed responsibility for abducting "a British national" in a statement issued earlier in the day, made a similar statement late Friday.

But the previous one, delivered to an international news agency in west Beirut, was not released because it lacked evidence and details - notably the name of the kidnapped Briton.

Moslem security sources said Mann, a former pilot for Lebanon's Middle East Airlines and a 50-year resident of Beirut, was snatched by gunmen.