Kidnapped German tourists released (Erta Ale, Danakil, Ethiopia incident 17 Jan 2012)

Tue, 6 Mar 2012, 16:01
16:01 PM | BY: T
The 2 German tourists who were kidnapped on 17 January from their camp on the Erta Ale volcano in the northern Danakil desert, Ethiopia, are reported to have been released, news agencies reported from Addis Ababa.
According to AFP, the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) has said that the 2 German tourists have already been handed over to representatives of the Afar tribe and from there to the German Embassy staff on Monday.
The German Foreign Office has not yet officially confirmed this information.

The 2 tourists were kidnapped during an armed attack at the camp of the Erta Ale volcano, and were abducted along with two Ethiopian guides in the vicinity of the Ethiopian Eritrean border. Before disappearing with their hostages, the attackers had brutally killed 5 more tourists from Hungary, Austria and Germany.
The rebels of the ARDUF are quoted to have "apologized for the inconveniences" suffered by the now freed Germans, to whom they "wished a happy return travel to their loved ones".
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office has told AFP that the release of information could not be confirmed at this stage and that a crisis team is working hard on a solution.
There is no mentioning of the other two kidnapped, which are Ethiopians, apparently, international press is much less interested in their fate.

ARDUF spokesmen regretted that the rebels could not be released sooner and blamed the Ethiopian government who prevented this with their hostile actions in the aftermath of the incident.
This underlines the intention of the ARDUF who were behind the assassinations and kidnapping. ARDUF, who according to AFP consist of at most 200 armed men, if fighting not for immediate profit but for its political aim towards an autonomous and united northern Afar area, currently divided by the Eritrea-Ethiopian border. It is generally assumed that ARDUF is being supported by Eritrea, but ARDUF rejects this very Ethiopian view.
Both countries have been blaming each other to be the ultimate responsible for the accidents. The countries fought a bloody war during 1998-2000, in which hundrd thousands were killed, and tensions have been lasting ever since, especially in the border area of the northern Danakil, where the accident occurred.

Erta Ale Janurary 17 kidnapping - ARDUF claims responsability, hostages said to be well

Mon, 20 Feb 2012, 08:38
08:38 AM | BY: T
More than a month after the 17 January attack on tourists and scientists at Erta Ale volcano, in which 5 were killed, several wounded and 4 people kidnapped, there is still no reliable news about the fate of the kidnapped.
The rebel Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) has claimed responsibility for the attack, and added that the kidnapped 2 German tourists and two Ethiopian guides are in good health and will be released if there is a "positive" diplomatic outcome with Ethiopia who blames Eritrea to support ARDUF, Reuters reported.
In the meanwhile, tour groups are returning to the area again. The Ethiopian government was said to have established a semi permanent military unit to increase safety for tourists at the volcano.

ARDUF's main political goal is to unite the Afar area. It does not accept the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, where several Afar tribes currently live divided on both sides.
The group has been accused to have been conducting or supporting violent attacks in the Danakil area, where tourists started to arrive in ever increasing numbers since the mid 1990s. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea accuse each other of being involved (supporting ARDUF) in the recent attack.

from Wikipedia:
In March 1995, ARDUF was involved in the kidnapping of Italian tourists in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, which resulting in an Ethiopian military campaign against the group, coordinated with the Eritrean government. Travelers reported clashes between ARDUF and Ethiopian government forces in the Dallol district through 1995, which led an end of all traffic on caravan trade routes through the Dallol area and resulting food shortages.
Political attempts at reconciliation were made in October 1997 with the creation of an Afar conference, and again in November, though both of these failed. Mohamooda Gaas, founder of ARDUF, made a statement declaring unilateral cease-fire with government forces on 5 June 1998 after the beginning of the 1998-2000 Eritrean-Ethiopian War and an Eritrean attack on the town of Alitena, inhabited primarily by Irob people (an ethnicity closely related linguistically to Afars). As a result of the fighting's civilian casualties, ARDUF reconciled with the Ethiopian government to minimize civilian casualties in the region and condemned the Eritrean government's attacks.
In July 2003 ARDUF became a member of the newly formed UEDF coalition, in opposition to the ruling EPRDF party. Soon after, on 20 September 2003, it issued a warning against foreigners entering the northern area of Afar Region for the purpose of demarcating the eastern part of the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, as it would be against the party's policy of Afar unity, who live on both sides of the eastern border.

Erta Ale volcano (Danakil desert, Ethiopia) security update - volcano reopened for tour groups, Ethiopian government sends military to secure

Thu, 2 Feb 2012, 09:14
09:14 AM | BY: T
Ert Ale volcano, the site of the deadly terrorist attack 4 weeks ago, in which 5 people were killed, several wounded and 4 abducted, is now open for tour groups again, local sources confirm us, and the first European tour operators have resumed their expeditions (or never cancelled them, despite the accidents...).
According to our correspondent in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Government is mobilizing mechanized troops and fenced the near border with Eritrea (where the attackers presumably came from) and establish a permanent special security force in the Dallol and Ert Ale areas. This illustrates the peculiar situation in this region, but according to tour operators in Ethiopia, the area can now be considered "100% safe".
Unfortunately, there is no good news yet about the fate of the 4 abducted German tourists and Ethiopian guides, except that negotiations between the various parties involved (governments from Germany, Ethiopia, Eritrea and the local Afar chiefs) are "ongoing". We hope for their liberation soon!

Deadly attack on tourists at Erta Ale - further details: 5 dead, 4 abducted and 7 wounded

Wed, 18 Jan 2012, 09:37
09:37 AM | BY: T
We have now more precise details from what happened at Erta Ale yesterday, and can confirm that the attack was not on Dallol as we suspected, but on the crater rim of Erta Ale volcano.
For years now, this has been a popular camping spot for tourists visiting the spectacular lava lake. According to our correspondents in Addis, who are in satellite phone contact with guides on location in the area, the attack happened on Tuesday around 01:00 Am local time.
5 people at least were shot dead by a group of armed rebels from Eritrea, who suddenly opened fire on the group. The victims include tourists 2 each from Germany and Hungary and 1Austrian. Their bodies have arrived in Semera town, the capital city of the Afar Region, and are now being transported to Addis.
In addition, 2 Germans and 2 Ethiopians were captured and abducted by the Eritrean terrorist.
Other 7 tourists were wounded and also arrived in Semera for further treatment in the Hospital. Among the seven tourists there is one Ethiopian Police man and the rest are from Germany, Italy and Hungary.
A large unit of the Militry of Ethiopia has arrived near Erta Ale and bans all visits to the volcano for an indefinite time we are told.
The government has send helicopters to the area to collect the bodies and to bring the wounded people. Now the area is under control and supervision of the Ethiopian Government "guarantying peace and stability" we are told.

Previous news

Tue, 17 Jan 2012, 02:13
Reinhard sent us photos from the recent expedition to Erta Ale and Dallol volcano in the Danakil desert (Ethiopia) in Nov/Dec 2011. ... Read all
Wed, 8 Dec 2010, 07:59
Significant changes have occured recently at Erta Ale volcano, the lava lake having filled up the south crater and overflowed repeatedly into the N and NW section of the caldera floor adjacient to the crater. ... Read all
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