Ukrainian journalist escapes from Syrian rebels

Tuesday 12 March 2013 17.04
Ukrainian journalist is reported to be in the Syrian capital, Damascus
Ukrainian journalist is reported to be in the Syrian capital, Damascus

A Ukrainian journalist kidnapped by Syrian rebels last October has escaped from her captors.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry confirmed that Anhar Kochneva was free, though it had no word on the circumstances.

Her nephew has reported that she is in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

She was taken hostage on 9 October near Homs by members of the Free Syrian Army, the main armed opposition force in the two-year revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

Ms Kochneva, who had been reporting for Russian media outlets from Syria, announced she was free on her LiveJournal blog page.

"Were you waiting? Your Alice has returned from Wonderland. Details later," her post read.

Her kidnappers had at one point last December threatened to kill her, if a ransom of $50 million (€38m) was not paid.

They later reduced their ransom demand to $300,000 (€230,000), Interfax news agency said.

Elsewhere, Syrian activists say fighting has intensified as government troops and rebels battle for control of the international airport in the northern city of Aleppo and nearby army bases.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said new clashes erupted today around the airport.

The rebels have been trying to seize the strategic facility for weeks.

But President Assad's soldiers have held on to the airport, Syria's second largest.

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