NBC crew freed by captors

6:45 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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BEIRUT -- As a foreign correspondent for nearly ten years, Richard Engel reports from the world's most dangerous countries.

But as Engel and three NBC colleagues were in Syria last week, they became the story. As they drove with a group of rebels in what they thought was a safe region, the men were suddenly ambushed by armed kidnappers who jumped out of some roadside trees.

"There were probably 15 gunman," Engel said. "They were wearing ski masks, they were heavily armed. They dragged us out of the car."

The terrorists, who Engel says are government loyalists, killed a man in front of them, then took the others to a series of different buildings, where for five days Engel and his crew were bound and blindfolded.

"We weren't physically beaten or tortured," Engel said. "It was a lot of psychological torture: threats of being killed, they made us choose which of us would be killed first and when we refused there were mock shootings."

A spokesperson says the captors never contacted NBC or requested ransom, and the network asked other news outlets to not report or publicize the incident so they didn't worsen the danger.

Then yesterday, as the kidnappers tried to drive the hostages to a new location, they were stopped by rebels who helped Engel and the others escape to Turkey, leaving them grateful for their freedom, but determined to continue telling the stories of those who aren't so lucky.

"There are still people who don't have their freedom inside Syria," Engel said. "And we wish them well."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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