Two British women kidnaped from their apartment 13 days ago were freed today by their captors and escorted by gunmen in a convoy of cars to the front door of the Commodore Hotel in west Beirut.
Hazel Moss, 45, and Amanda Magrath, 28, both said they did not know why they had been abducted or what had prompted their release.
Magrath, who said they "had been very well looked after, really," added that she did not know where they had been held.
Beirut police said the women had been seen being pushed into a car outside their apartment in west Beirut by armed men on Sept. 26. Magrath said they had been blindfolded until they arrived at their place of detention.
Moss, who at first refused to talk to reporters, said later in her hotel room, "I never believed they would ever release us." Asked if she had been mistreated by her captors, she replied, "I have lost a lot of weight, haven't I?"
No one claimed reponsibility for their abduction, in contrast to previous kidnapings of westerners claimed by Islamic extremists.
As they attempted to reach their families in England by telephone, both women said they did not wish to discuss details of their days in captivity.
Moss, a former restaurant manager, and Magrath, who has signed up to teach English at the American University of Beirut, both said they intended to remain in Lebanon.
Moss, who appeared shaken by her kidnap ordeal, at one point snapped at journalists pressing her for details of her experience that "being kidnaped was better than this."
Twelve westerners kidnaped beginning in March 1984 and three Soviets abducted last week remain missing in Lebanon. A fourth abducted Soviet diplomat was slain last week.
The Islamic Jihad terrorist group has claimed it is holding the 12 and last week announced the "execution" of one of them, U.S. Embassy political officer William Buckley, but no body has been found and there has been no other confirmation of his fate.
The previously unknown Islamic Liberation Organization claimed responsibility for the Soviets' abduction and for the slaying of consular officer Arkady Katkov.
Magrath, relaxing later in a hotel room, said she and Moss had managed to have a few laughs during their captivity. "During the highs and the lows, we would ask ourselves what we would do when we get out," she said.
The two women were abducted three days after Moslem commemoration of Ashura, a Shiite period of mourning.
It was not clear whether their kidnaping might have been prompted as a protest against a perceived western and modern life style or by a more political motive.