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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 16:33 GMT
Ethiopia kidnap group back in UK
Embassy staff at RAF Brize Norton
The staff have said they were well treated by their captors
A group of British embassy staff kidnapped in northern Ethiopia have arrived back in the UK.

A private charter flight from Addis Ababa landed shortly after 1530 GMT at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The kidnapped party included the First Secretary at the British Embassy in the Ethiopian capital, Peter Rudge.

The four Britons and one French citizen, who were on a sightseeing tour in the Afar area when they were seized on 1 March, were released on Tuesday.

Nine Ethiopians who were with them at the time are still being held captive.

The kidnapped embassy staff have been named as the Foreign Office's Mr Rudge and Jonathan Ireland, who both worked at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa; Malcolm Smart and French citizen Laure Beaufils, of the Department for International Development in Addis Ababa; and Rosanna Moore, wife of the head of the British Council in Addis Ababa.

Family members including children also appeared to have joined them on the flight.

Tribal negotiations

The Britons have said they were well-treated by their captors.

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 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.

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

The group were handed over to Eritrean authorities after it is thought Afar tribal elders negotiated with the kidnappers.

There has been no official word on who the kidnappers were, but the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, an Ethiopian rebel group, have been blamed.

Eritrea has denied Ethiopian claims that they had a part in the kidnapping.

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

The British Embassy group lands at RAF Brize Norton

Country profile: Ethiopia
02 Mar 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Eritrea
19 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

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