Ethiopia says stops kidnap of 28 French tourists


ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia said on Wednesday security forces had stopped soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea abducting 28 French tourists in its remote northern Afar region.

“An attempt by Eritrean forces to abduct 28 French tourists in the Afar region has been foiled by Ethiopian security forces,” a police statement read on state TV said.

An Ethiopian official was hurt by gunfire, but the French tourists were fine and taken to a local tourist facility, it said. “They are in a safe condition,” the statement said.

Eritrean officials were unavailable for comment on Wednesday’s accusation, but routinely deny crossing into Ethiopia or backing local rebels there.

Last year, rebels in the remote region kidnapped five Europeans and eight Ethiopians on an exploration trip. They released the Europeans two weeks later, and the Ethiopians after two months.

Ethiopia also blamed its arch-foe Eritrea, with whom it fought a 1998-200 border war, for masterminding that abduction and backing the local Afar Liberation Front.