Turkish pilot 'refuses to fly to Beirut' in protest

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A Turkish pilot refused to fly a Beirut-bound plane from Istanbul in a show of protest against the kidnapping of two of his colleagues in Lebanon, local media reported Monday.

Yilmaz Ozgenturk, a captain at national carrier Turkish Airlines (THY), left the cockpit after announcing to passengers in Turkish and English that he would not fly to Beirut because he was protesting the abduction, the Milliyet newspaper reported.

The plane eventually took off after a new pilot was sent.

The airline has launched a probe into the action of the captain, who reportedly said: "That was my personal choice."

On August 9, gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Turkish Airlines crew from Beirut's international airport to a hotel in the city, and snatched its two pilots.

A previously unknown group calling itself Zuwwar Imam al-Rida claimed the abduction, and demanded that Turkey use its influence with Syrian rebels it backs to secure the release of nine Lebanese Shiites kidnapped in Syria in May 2012.

Lebanese authorities have arrested three suspects and charged them in connection with the abduction.

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