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Belgian teacher missing in Syria
Belgian teacher Pierre Piccinin da Prata, who has been in Syria since the beginning of the month, has not been heard from for two weeks, reports Le Soir. The historian and political scientist was on his seventh trip to Syria since the start of the popular uprising in early 2011. The teacher from Philippeville, in Namur province, left for Syria accompanied by a European journalist whose identity Le Soir has not divulged. He was due to return to Belgium on April 14 but has not contacted his family for two weeks. Piccinin was at first sceptical about the Syrian rebellion and defended views close to those of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. However, he was kidnapped and tortured alongside rebels for six days during his third visit to Syria in May last year. He then started defending the popular uprising against the Baathist regime. The Belgian foreign affairs ministry said it had no direct information from Syria, as the Belgian embassy in Damascus is closed.