Kidnappers in southern Syria have released a boy they had held for over three months after his family paid ransom, state media reported Sunday.
The case of eight-year-old Fawwaz Qutayfan shocked Syrians for weeks after his kidnappers released a video showing him screaming while being whipped with a hose to pressure his family to pay the ransom.
Local media reported the ransom was 500 million Syrian pounds ($139,000), with some alleging the kidnappers had threatened to start cutting off Quteifan’s fingers if the money wasn’t paid.
Authorities have detained a suspect linked to a telephone number used to send threats related to the kidnapping, state media reported, adding that Interpol had helped in tracking the number.
The police commander for the southern province of Daraa said the police did not interfere when the parents dropped off the money for fear of the child’s safety. Brig. Gen. Darar al-Dandal told state TV that a motorcycle dropped the boy off near a grain silo afterwards in in the southern village of Nawa.
The boy later appeared on state TV to recount the kidnapping and beatings, adding that he was at one point kept with a family who treated him well, feeding him and keeping him warm until his release.
Qutayfan was kidnapped in early November in the southern village of Ibtta.
Poverty has risen dramatically since Syria’s conflict began in March 2011, with some 80 percent of the population now falling under the threshold. Crime too has been on the rise.