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Madrid newspaper says two journalists held in Syria for three months

Dec. 10, 2013 at 10:28 AM

MADRID, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Two Spanish journalists with extensive experience covering the conflict in Syria have been kidnapped near the border with Turkey, a Spanish newspaper reports.

Javier Espinosa, a staff writer for Madrid-based newspaper El Mundo, and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, a freelance photographer, were abducted Sept. 16 but the newspaper did not report the incident until Tuesday.

The journalists were abducted along with four fighters of the Free Syrian Army at a checkpoint in Raqqa province by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Espinosa and Vilanova were headed to Turkey after spending two weeks in Syria.

ISIS was formerly linked to al-Qaida. The same group kidnapped Italian priest Paolo Dall-Oglio July 29 in Raqqa while he was trying to mediate the release of other prisoners.

Espinosa and Vilanova were traveling together, even though Vilanova was not working on assignment for El Mundo.

El Mundo said the kidnappers had not indicated during indirect contacts what they want in exchange for release of the journalists.

The newspaper had withheld news of the abduction of Espinosa, 49, and Vilanova, 52, at the request of their families, CNN reported.

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