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Story of the week: Kidnapped in Syria

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A war correspondent’s worst nightmare – kidnapped behind enemy lines. That’s what happened to NBC’s Richard Engel while on assignment close to the border to Turkey. Read his amazing story at the Vanity Fair.

Kidnapped in syria nbc

Except from Engel’s story:

 We’re going to be handed to Hezbollah. We’re going to Foua. Hezbollah will know who we are. If Hezbollah gets us, we’ll be put in a cell with a metal door. We won’t measure our captivity in days or weeks but years. Foua is being air-supplied by the government. We could be helicoptered from there to Beirut or Tehran or Damascus.

We didn’t know how long it would take to get to Foua. But seven minutes into the trip—we were counting minutes to keep track of distances—the driver slammed on his brakes. “Checkpoint! Checkpoint!” he yelled. Through the corner of my blindfold I could see the headlights of a vehicle facing us in the road ahead.

The driver wasted no time. He opened his door, jumped out of the van, and started firing his AK-47. He fired short, quick, controlled bursts. Not warning shots. Not random sprays. These were shots to kill. Abu Jaafar had also left the car and opened fire. In the backseat I pulled off my blindfold. We were on a country road lined with stones and olive trees. The scene was lit only by our own headlights and those of the car that faced us. The checkpoint was about 50 yards away.

“It’s time to go,” I said to Ian. He was thinking the same thing and reached for the sliding door. It was jammed. He climbed over Abu Jaafar’s empty front seat, left the car, and ran for the cover of the rocks and trees. Aziz was next, climbing over the driver’s seat. Leaving the van, he stumbled on the driver—the man had been shot and was lying dead. Aziz knelt by the body and took cover by the van, going no farther. Behind us, the gunmen in the trail car decided not to join the fight. The vehicle reversed, turned, and sped off. I climbed into the front seat. As I reached for the door I saw a gunman walking to the car.

The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.