[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 00:33 GMT 01:33 UK
Eight Ethiopian hostages released
One of the party's damaged cars
The Ethiopians were escorting Western travellers
Eight Ethiopians who were kidnapped last month alongside five Europeans in the northern Afar region have been released in neighbouring Eritrea.

The Europeans were released 12 days after the group was abducted at gunpoint, but nothing had been heard of the Ethiopians until now.

The Ethiopian authorities had accused Eritrea of being behind the abductions, but Asmara had strenuously denied this.

The Afar region is one of the hottest, most remote places on earth.

'Cross-border deal'

Ethiopia's government said the hostages were now with Ethiopian security officials and in good health.

The release was negotiated by Afar elders on both sides of barren border zone, which is mostly populated by nomads, said Ismael Ali Sero, head of Ethiopia's Afar administration.

We want to make sure that they are OK, that they were not mistreated
Rosanna Moore
former hostage

Eritrea has not yet commented on the release.

It is believed the captives were held in Eritrea for a while, and some analysts have blamed an Afar rebel group.

The earlier release of the Westerners - three Britons, a French woman and an Italian-British woman - was negotiated by Afar elders who handed them over to Eritrean authorities.

"We are absolutely delighted to hear that they're free," the Italian-British woman, Rosanna Moore, told Reuters after the Ethiopians were released.

"We're only going to feel totally satisfied when we see them. We want to make sure that they are OK, that they were not mistreated."


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Ethiopia's Afar community
05 Mar 07 |  Africa
Country profile: Ethiopia
02 Mar 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Eritrea
19 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific