15/03/07 (B386-B) Les otages européens déclarent qu’ils ont été bien traités durant leur captivité. (2 dépêches en Anglais – Info lectrice)

1 – The Guardian

Ethiopia hostages describe fair treatment

The five Europeans
kidnapped in Ethiopia have said they were "treated well" by their
captors as they safely returned to their friends and colleagues.

It is believed some of the British hostages could be returning to the UK today
after being released to Eritrean authorities following their ordeal. In a
statement some of the group said they were "physically well, but tired".

After arriving in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, they were driven to
the British embassy where they were expected to meet loved ones.

The British Council director, Michael Moore, the husband of one of the released
hostages, said in a statement that news of the group’s release had brought
an "overwhelming sense of relief".

He said: "I would like to thank all those who have been involved in securing
the safe release of my wife, Rosanna, and the four other members of the tourist
group who were taken hostage in the Afar region of north-east Ethiopia 13
days ago.

"Words simply cannot express the overwhelming sense of relief that the
news of their release brings."

The five, which also included first secretary Peter Rudge, were kidnapped
on March 1 with 13 Ethiopians accompanying them. They had been on a tourist
trip to see geological sites in remote north-eastern Ethiopia.

Foreign secretary Margaret Beckett announced on Tuesday that the group had
been handed over to the authorities in Eritrea.

As well as Mr Rudge and Mrs Moore, the others kidnapped were named as Jonathan
Ireland, a member of the administrative support staff, and two members of
the Department for International Development – Malcolm Smart and Laure Beaufils,
a French national.

The group said in their statement: "We are immensely happy that we have
been released and would like to thank all those who have been involved in
our release.

"We were treated well by our captors – physically we are all in good
condition but obviously very tired. One of the first things we all did after
our release was speak to our families.

"It was great to be able to tell them that we are well after all they
have had to go through in the last 13 days. We look forward to being reunited
with our family and friends."

It came as Ethiopia accused neighbouring Eritrea of orchestrating the kidnapping,
and described it as an act of terrorism.

"No doubt the crime of abduction was masterminded and executed by the
Eritrean government," Ethiopia’s ministry of foreign affairs said in
a statement.

"Thus, it has become manifestly evident that the Eritrean regime not
only supports and propounds terrorism but is also directly involved in active

Eritrea, which gained independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993,
following a 30-year guerrilla war, denied having anything to do with the kidnapping
and blamed an Ethiopian rebel group.

"These are outrageous allegations with no factual basis," a spokesman
for the Eritrean president said.

The group had been on a trip to see geological sites in the remote Afar depression
region, known as one of the hottest and most inhospitable places on Earth.

They were seized at gunpoint, along with the 13 Ethiopians, in the north-eastern
village of Hamedali.

According to witnesses, 50 men, some of them armed, burst into the village
in the early hours of the morning and marched the tourists towards the Eritrean

Two vehicles belonging to the group were later found abandoned in Hamedali,
riddled with bullets, but still containing luggage and mobile phones.

Eight Ethiopians who were kidnapped with the group are still missing. The
Ethiopian government has called for their immediate release.

2 – BBC

treated Britons ‘well’

Bullet-ridden vehicles

Four Britons freed after being taken hostage in Ethiopia say they
were well-treated by their captors, and are "physically well but tired."

One of the first things they did on release was speak to their families.

The group have now arrived back in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, after
leaving Eritrea, where they were handed over by their captors.

A spokesman said: "They will spend some time there and will be consulted
on what they want to do next."

The spokesman added it was "unlikely that they will be leaving today."

Freed hostage Rosanna Moore’s husband Michael thanked everyone involved in
the release.

He said: "Words simply cannot express the overwhelming sense of relief
that the news of their release brings."

A British Council spokesman said there had been plans for the couple to meet
on Wednesday evening.

A French woman hostage was released along with the four Britons. But fears
are growing for eight Ethiopians abducted at the same time.

The group were taken captive on 1 March in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia.

Doctors say the five Europeans are in "good health".

The British ambassador to Ethiopia Bob Dewar said he and all the embassy staff
were "extremely relieved and happy" that their friends and colleagues
are now safe and well.

Brian Smart, whose son Malcolm Smart had been kidnapped, told reporters at
his home in Newcastle upon Tyne of his and wife Ida’s relief.

He added: "We are delighted and very relieved to know that they are safe
and sound but we have been advised not to say anything about this because
of other hostages still in Ethiopia."


Peter Rudge, first secretary at the British embassy in Addis Ababa
Jonathan Ireland, administrative support staff at the embassy
Malcolm Smart, Department for International Development (DFID)
Laure Beaufils, a French national, also DFID
Rosanna Moore, wife of the head of the British Council in Addis Ababa

The group were travelling
in the Afar region, one of the hottest, most remote places on earth, when
witnesses said they were seized at gunpoint by a group of up to 50 masked
men and marched into the desert.

Immediate release

One of the Land Rovers driven by the group was recovered at the weekend in
the village of Hamedali in the Afar region, which spans Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The party were apparently on a sightseeing tour when they were abducted on
1 March.

It is believed that Afar tribal elders negotiated with the kidnappers to secure
the group’s release.

They were handed over to Eritrean authorities on Tuesday.

The Ethiopian government is now calling for the immediate release of the eight
Ethiopians kidnapped with the Europeans.

BBC East Africa correspondent Adam Mynott said there had been no official
word on who the kidnappers were, but added that it was "pretty clear"
that a rebel group based in the Afar desert was responsible.

The Afar region straddles the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since Eritrea gained
independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.