Monday, January 23, 2012

Update: German Tourists Kidnapped in Lethal Attack on Tourists in Afar are Well

The two German tourists and two Ethiopians who were kidnapped during the attack on a group of some 20 European tourists in the Afar region on January 21 are reportedly alive and being well-cared for. Tragically though, five of the Europeans were killed in the attack. See my previous posting on this subject.

Even though the Government of Ethiopia quickly blamed elements in neighboring Eritrea for the deaths of five European tourists who were killed last week, it has now been confirmed that the attack was carried out by Ethiopian rebels of the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF). ARDUF has also publicly ruled out anyone from Eritrea being involved.

COMMENT: Germany's Federal Foreign Office has confirmed that two of its nationals are missing, as well as two Germans being killed in the attack. Two Hungarians and one Austrian were also killed in the attack.

The area, which boasts spectacular moon-like landscapes and is famed to be the hottest place on Earth, is popular among travelers.

ARDUF has been fighting a low-level insurgency in the remote region to end what it says is "political marginalization and economic deprivation" by Addis Ababa.

In 2007, ARDUF rebels seized five European tourists and eight Ethiopians. The Europeans were released after 12 days to the Eritrean government, while the Ethiopians were freed almost two months later.

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