The body of a Lebanese civilian kidnapped and killed by jihadists has been handed over to his family in Arsal, a town near Syria, residents and state media said Saturday.
Kayed Ghadada was abducted last month after a fierce battle between the Lebanese army and jihadists who had crossed the border from war-ravaged Syria.
“Kayed Ghadada’s corpse has arrived in the town of Arsal,” said Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA). “The body was handed over to his family, while the head had a bullet wound.”
The development comes as two jihadist groups, the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS), continue to hold some 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen who were seized during the August battle.
Residents of the majority Sunni Muslim town of Arsal told AFP that Ghadada had been kidnapped from his home.
On August 28, Al-Nusra Front announced on Twitter that it had captured a “collaborator” with Shiite the movement Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of troops into Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
But both the NNA and Arsal residents said Ghadada had been killed by the IS, which in June announced a “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq, and which has committed horrific abuses in both countries.
It was not possible to confirm which of the two jihadist groups had been behind Ghadada’s killing.
But while the two groups have been at odds in other parts of Syria, pro-Damascus Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said on Saturday that their relation is one of “friendship” in the Qalamun border region.
Twenty soldiers, dozens of jihadists and 16 civilians were killed in fighting in August that ended after mediation by Sunni Lebanese clerics.
The fighting in Arsal was the most serious border incident since the conflict in Syria erupted in March 2011.
The militants have reportedly sought to negotiate the release of the hostages in exchange for Islamist prisoners held in Lebanese jails.
Lebanese officials have rejected holding talks on a possible prisoner swap, but have said Qatar is mediating negotiations on the issue.