03/03/07 (B385-A) Selon une dépêche de la BBC, la situation très confuse des touristes enlevés et disparus en Ethiopie, commencent à se clarifier. (Info lectrice – en Anglais)

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Il ressortirait que 18 à 20 touristes et 13 éthiopiens auraient été enlevés et conduit à pied vers la frontière de l’Erythrée. Parmi eux, cinq ressortissants britanniques, dont des membres de l’Ambassade UK en Ethiopie. En revanche, deux autres groupes qui manquaient à l’appel, auraient été localisés et seraient, eux, en sécurité. Ces informations sont encore à lire avec prudence.

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Tourists
missing on Ethiopia trip

British embassy officials and their relatives are among a number of foreign
tourists missing and feared kidnapped in a remote part of Ethiopia.

Whitehall officials told the BBC there was “a national security dimension”
to their disappearance.

Ethiopian police said the tourists were kidnapped, along with 13 Ethiopian
aides, about 800km (500 miles) north-east of the capital, Addis Ababa.

There are conflicting reports about the exact number of people missing.


One tour operator, Origins Ethiopia, said 10 tourists, whose satellite phone
had broken, were now known to be safe.

But
some estimates say up to 18 people are still unaccounted for.

Safety fears

Details of what happened are sketchy, but the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge at the
Foreign Office understands that a sizeable group carried out an attack or
an abduction and that there was small arms fire.

Most of the tourists are believed to be French, the others British
and Italian.

Ethiopian police said the 13 missing Ethiopians were working as drivers and
interpreters for the foreigners.

They were
travelling to the Afar desert, one of the hottest and most inhospitable areas
of the world.

UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said the British government was working
with Ethiopian authorities who “are doing all they can to ensure that
the situation is resolved peacefully”.

Ms Beckett said five of the missing Britons were members of staff from the
UK embassy in Addis Ababa or relatives of staff.

The UK government is sending a team to north-east Ethiopia to help with efforts
to find them.

Officials said the government emergency planning committee Cobra met on Friday
to discuss the issue.

Earlier, Bereket Simon, communications adviser to Ethiopia’s prime minister,
told AFP news agency Addis Ababa had “heard about an abduction and we
are trying to confirm [the missing people’s] whereabouts”.

“We’ll try our best to ensure their safety,” he said.

French diplomats in Ethiopia said the tourists had been kidnapped.


“There has been a kidnapping, that’s certain… It happened the evening
before yesterday [Wednesday],” the French ambassador to Ethiopia, Stephane
Gompertz, told AFP.

Thieves and rebels

A businessman who works in the area told the Associated Press news agency
that one member of the group managed to escape and use a satellite phone to
alert the authorities.

Reports suggest that two separate groups – one mainly consisting of French
tourists, the other a mixture of nationalities – disappeared.

Western diplomats are sending representatives to the largest town in the area,
Mekele.

Afar is known for its inhospitable terrain and thieves and a small rebel group
are active there.

More intrepid visitors like to tour the Danakil Depression, one of the lowest
and hottest places on Earth known for its salt mines and active volcanoes,
Reuters news agency reports.

Tourists are advised to travel there with an armed guard.