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1989: British war hero 'seized' in Beirut
A British war hero is feared kidnapped after he disappeared in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Jackie Mann, 74, an ex-squadron leader and Spitfire pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain, vanished after leaving his home in the city to go to a bank.

It is feared that Mr Mann has joined the three other UK hostages believed to be held by the pro-Iranian Hezbollah party.

Mr Mann's wife Sunnie has made an emotional appeal for his release on Lebanon Television.

Mrs Mann said: "I appeal to whomsoever is holding my husband to return him to me."

Mrs Mann told reporters: "We are just a couple who have lived in Lebanon for over 40 years because we loved the place and its people."

There are concerns for Mr Mann's welfare because he suffers from a skin problem which requires medication after being badly burnt when he was shot down as a pilot.

The previously unknown group Armed Struggle Cells has claimed it has a British "captive" although it did not mention Mr Mann by name. But the claim is being treated with caution.

The group has demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners it said were being held in Britain accused of killing Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali in 1987.

However, Scotland Yard said no-one linked to the murder was being held in the UK.

A Foreign Office spokesman has confirmed that Mr Mann is missing but said there was no independent evidence that he had been kidnapped.

Officials are checking hospitals in the Lebanon, police and local authorities in Beirut in the search for Mr Mann.

The British embassy had warned three days before Mr Mann was seized that a Shia group was preparing to take another Western hostage.

The Foreign Office and British embassy in Lebanon had renewed warnings to British citizens still living in Beirut to leave immediately following the Salman Rushdie affair in February.

A fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the publication of Mr Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses". Khomeini said Muslims had a duty to kill Mr Rushdie for blaspheming Islam in his novel.

Concerns have also been mounting after the Speaker of the Iranian parliament, Hashemi Rafsanjani, urged Palestinians to kill five Westerners for every Palestinian killed by Israelis in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old West German aid worker, Marcus Quint, who was kidnapped earlier this month has been released at the headquarters of the pro-Syrian Amal militia without any explanation.

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Jackie Mann
Former Spitfire pilot Jackie Mann has lived in Lebanon for 40 years



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