Jewish Leader in El Salvador Abducted from Car in Capital

The leader of El Salvador’s Jewish community has been kidnapped in the capital city of San Salvador, El Salvadoran police officials said.

Jean-Claude Kahn, 51, a businessman of French descent, was abducted Tuesday from his Mercedes-Benz by six armed men near a private university in downtown San Salvador, police said.

Kahn owns a textile warehouse in the capital.

It remains unclear whether the kidnapping was financially motivated or occurred because Kahn is prominent in the Jewish community.

A Lebanese community exists in San Salvador, raising speculation that the kidnapping was directed against the Jewish community there, said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.

About 30 Jewish families live in El Salvador, Steinberg said.

The community had some 120 families before the Salvadoran civil war of the late 1970s, but most of them emigrated at the time to avoid the strife.

Although the motivation for the kidnapping is still in doubt, the WJC has notified Jewish communities around the world to be on alert, steinberg said.

The WJC also has been in contact with the U.S. State Department, the National Security Council and the French Foreign Ministry, he said.

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