Analysis: Ethiopian rescue a race against time

March 7th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Rob Crilly reports from Afar province on the challenges raised by the kidnap of five British diplomats (Rob Crilly)

birton The search for the five Britons missing in the Danakil Desert is rapidly becoming a race against time. Just one day in the blistering, dry heat is an ordeal. There are no trees to offer respite from the huge Ethiopian sun and without litres and litres of water, dehydration is only ever a matter of an hour or so away.

The missing tourists are now into their fifth day. There has been no news of their whereabouts.
Bits and pieces left behind at the scene of their kidnapping in the tiny village of Hamedelah suggest they weren’t allowed time to get themselves prepared for days in the desert.
Several pairs of boots were left in one of the 4x4s that had brought them to this inhospitable environment.

So where are they now?

Villagers taken with the Britons and then released say they were being marched towards the Eritrean border, about a three-hour walk away. That makes the search infinitely more complicated than if they had stayed in Ethiopia.

The two countries maintain a high state of alert over their disputed border. Full and frank co-operation in the hunt for the missing five seems inconceivable with the region balanced continually on the brink of war.

Initial reports suggested Eritrean soldiers were responsible for taking the Britons and that remains a possibility.

But why then did the local militias entrusted with guarding Hamedelah not raise the alarm as foreigners rode into the village?

Why did they not use their AK-47s or give chase?

Why did the guesthouse owner where the Britons were staying insist on accompanying his clients into the starlit desert night?

Why were a number of villagers taken and then released?

It is possible that the real culprits are nothing more exotic than local bandits or rebels known to the people of Hamedelah.

But whoever is responsible, they may be alarmed at the international attention the kidnapping has attracted.

Ethiopia is abuzz with reports of SAS operations being planned and practised, which raises another frightening prospect.

If the kidnappers realise they have bitten off more than they can chew in snatching staff from the British embassy in Addis Ababa, then they may simply be abandoned to make their own way to safety.

In a region where temperatures reach 50C and which is almost devoid of human settlements, that could prove to be their greatest challenge yet.

  1. | #1

    I think it is part of Woyane’s endless dirty drama.

  2. Chachi
    | #2

    The fool ferenjis dont understand how Meles Zenawi and his mafia woyane group operate. This is panned and executed by the woyane. The region is near to tigrai. One of the allegations by an Ethiopian local authority was that Eritrean troops wearing uniforms were the culprit. Why do they were their uniforms when kidnapping. I see something fishy Meles is doing here. The TPLF wants war with Eritrea so badly and they need some good pretexts to do it like the Somalia case. This is another one. You will see more blame on the eritreans from Ethiopian officials.
    One of those dirty woyane games which Meles does with relative sophistication to westernes but something not hard for ordinary Ethiopians to discover.

  3. Zenawi is dead
    | #3


    You got a very good analysis there. “Why do they wear their uniform when kdinapping?” This smells like dirty work of woyanae. They want the US to be involved in this war against Eritrea. They know they can not do it this time around since the whole Ethiopian population is against them.

  4. Brook
    | #4

    There no difference in the definition. Woyannes and Eritreans are all Eritreas who rule Ethiopia brutaly. If these guys are kidnapped by either of them it means all the same. By the way, they did something good.
    I think it is on time the ferenji also sense the test of human rights abuse, in the desert.

    Keep it up guys and continue kidnapping!!

  5. fitsum
    | #5

    1.first on OAU headqurter it wasnt that much of a news as wayani expacted then melese and co decide it is a time to bring it to the desert oh that is good american adviser says melese and co agree in princple it will ignite the war then they made amistake the mistake was to put it on eritrean solders instead of saying asusual the tererist from eritrea who gone score we shall stand wait and see as the wise person says the end

  6. dani
    | #6

    well well well this is a good game for ethiopia to blame eritrea long leave 51 state

  7. Tigist
    | #7

    All the comments above are just another prove that no Ethiopian believe Meles any more. It doesn’t matter what the case is no trust for Meles, period. Now, my question is how on the earth Meles can run a country, if has no one to trust him? The answer would be he is surrounded by very stupid people who don’t even know that they are trapped by one of Meles’s tricks. That tells me that his days are numbered. We just have to push, push a little bit more and get ride of this evil guy.

Comments are closed.