Wikileaks: KIDNAPPED EUROPEANS RELEASE IN ERITREA

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAE #0300/01 0741405
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 151405Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8774
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA IMMEDIATE 6069
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 2940
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0222
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1308
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1485
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ
S E C R E T ASMARA 000300 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2017 
TAGS: PREL PINR PTER ET ER
SUBJECT: MORE DETAILS: KIDNAPPED EUROPEANS RELEASE IN 
ERITREA 

REF: A) ASMARA 282 B) 070649Z MAR 07 ASMARA IIR 6 908 

     0216 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR SCOTT H. DELISI, FOR REASONS 1.4(B) AND (D) 

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY:  On March 14, British Embassy officials 
provided additional details about the kidnapping and release 
of the five Europeans by the Afar Revolutionary Democratic 
Union Front (ARDUF).  The British officials also shared a 
report issued by the Government of the State of Eritrea (GSE) 
which outlined its efforts to secure the release of the 
kidnapped Europeans.  The report indicates that the GSE had 
knowledge and access to the abductees as early as March 6, 
although the Eritreans shared no information with the British 
Embassy until notification of the release and travel of the 
abductees to Asmara on March 13.  Despite the GSE,s lack of 
transparency in communication with the British and French 
Embassies and despite the questions lingering around possible 
linkages between the GSE and the ARDUF, there is no 
indication at this time that Eritrea was involved in any way 
with the kidnapping, and in fact, the GSE appears overall to 
have played a proactive role in facilitating the release of 
the abductees.  End Summary. 

------------------------------ 
THE ACCOUNT FROM THE ABDUCTEES 
------------------------------ 

2. (C) On March 1, in an ARDUF raid on a tax office in 
Hamidella, Ethiopia, the five Europeans and thirteen 
Ethiopians were, seemingly, caught in the wrong place at the 
wrong time.  One of the Europeans reported that, during the 
raid, an ARDUF rebel appeared surprised by the presence of 
the foreigners in the area and signaled to them to go away. 
The leader of the ARDUF attack overruled this decision, 
however, and detained the thirteen Ethiopians and five 
Europeans.  The Europeans reported that the Ethiopians in 
their tour group appeared to recognize the kidnappers, 
through tribal or clan affiliation but not through any 
complicity in the kidnapping.  The Ethiopians were able to 
translate what was happening for the Europeans from Afar and 
Amharic into English.   The ARDUF kidnappers provided the 
abductees with their manifesto at the start of their 
detention, leaving the Europeans no doubt as to the identity 
and agenda of the group from the outset. 

3. (C) After capture, the group was marched for the next four 
to five days through flat terrain.  During this time, ARDUF 
permitted four of the Ethiopians to leave the group.  One of 
the Europeans reported that on Day 2 of their march, the 
ARDUF leader announced they were now in Eritrea.  On the 
fifth day (probably March 5), they arrived at a location 
which the British Embassy believes to be the ARDUF 
headquarters near, or in, the locality of Wandidel.  From 
there, they were marched to a wadi (dried river bed) with an 
oasis several hours away.  The group stayed there until 
Monday, March 12, spending the days in the oasis and nights 
on top of a barren plateau to evade the mosquitoes in the 
oasis. (Note:  The kidnap victims also reported the oasis was 
located near a cemetery. End note.) 

4. (C) On March 12, the Europeans were informed they were 
being released.  Prior to their departure from Wandidel, they 
attempted to give shoes and other supplies to the nine 
Ethiopian hostages who remained behind, however, they were 
prevented from doing so by their ARDUF kidnappers.  The five 
were then transported by car with members of the ARDUF to an 
Eritrean military camp.  The Europeans said that the ARDUF 
members appeared to know, and be friendly with, Eritrean 
military members stationed at the camp.  At 1100, an Eritrean 
helicopter arrived at the camp.  The Europeans were loaded 
into the helicopter and, at approximately 1530, departed the 
camp for Asmara.  Accompanying them in the helicopter were 
the Sultan of the Eritrean Afar, three other Afar leaders, 
and the leader of ARDUF.  Upon arrival in Asmara, the Sultan 
and the Afar leaders remained with the European hostages but 
the ARDUF leader was swept away by Eritrean officials, a 
group which reportedly included a representative from 
President Isaias, office.  The hostages were taken into the 

care of the British Embassy until their departure for Addis, 
via Djibouti on March 14.  The group was scheduled to fly to 
London from Addis Ababa on March 15. 

--------------------- 
THE ERITREANS ACCOUNT 
--------------------- 

5.  (S/NF) The GSE presented to the British Embassy a written 
account of its efforts to secure the release of the 
Europeans.  The account made it clear that the Eritreans had 
been in communication with ARDUF since Tuesday, March 6 and 
had full knowledge of both the abductees, location and 
physical conditions.  (Note:  As reported reftel B, the GSE 
had notified the British and French Ambassadors on March 6 
that they had learned of the location of the abductees in 
Ethiopia and would try to arrange for their release.  End 
Note.)  The GSE provided no further information to the 
British and French Embassies until contacting the British 
Ambassador on March 13, to inform him of the abductees, 
release and expected arrival in Asmara that evening. 

6. (S/NF) The GSE report said that the GSE learned on 
Tuesday, March 6 that the kidnapped group was located in 
Wandidel (Wayima), 30 kilometers south of the Eritrean 
border.  The GSE then contacted three Afar Sultans of the 
region: Sultan Abudulkader of Rahaita, Sultan Shahira of Bada 
and Sulton Mohamed Abdella of Aiyum.  Through these 
intermediaries, the GSE requested a March 7 meeting with 
ARDUF at Oasa Gala, 10 kilometers south of the Eritrean 
border in Ethiopian territory.  Initially, ARDUF refused. 
However, on March 8, a group of Afar elders met and applied 
pressure on ARDUF to negotiate with the GSE.  On March 9, an 
Eritrean doctor was granted permission to see the abductees. 
(Note:  The  Europeans confirmed they saw the doctor on 
Saturday, March 10.  If the GSE claim as to the location of 
the abductees at that time is accurate, then the Eritrean had 
to cross the border into Ethiopia to see them.  End note.) 
The Europeans reported that they were aware that negotiations 
were ongoing for their release, which they believe is a 
likely reason for their earlier transfer to the oasis away 
from the camp where the Eritreans, Afar and ARDUF were 
reportedly meeting. 

7.  (S/NF) The GSE reports that during the negotiations, the 
ARDUF presented three political demands.  First, ARDUF wanted 
political recognition for the organization.  Secondly, they 
sought restitution for the salt mines taken over by the 
Ethiopian government.  Thirdly, they wanted the Government of 
Ethiopia to reimburse the Afar for salt harvested in the past 
few years. The GSE reports that it dismissed ARDUF,s demands 
and continued to press for the Europeans, release and 
further claims that ARDUF eventually &bowed to the pressure 
of the Afar elders8 and agreed to hand over the abductees. 
On March 12, the European were returned to Wandidel and 
traveled by car to Aiyumin in Eritrea ) a 45 kilometer ride 
that took 2 hours of travel.  They arrived in Aiyumin at 
1900.  The next day they traveled to Asmara by helicopter. 

------- 
COMMENT 
------- 

8. (S/NF)  The GSE played a facilitating role in the release 
of the European abductees and for that the British, French, 
and Italian Ambassadors are all grateful.  However, all of us 
are puzzled, to say the least, by the fact that the GSE 
appeared to know first-hand of the abducted group,s location 
and of their physical status for at least seven days prior to 
their release and yet offered no additional information to 
any of the concerned Embassies in Asmara.  Two possible 
explanations offered by our British colleagues for the GSE,s 
reticence to coordinate more closely include the Eritreans, 
fear of losing face should their efforts prove unsuccessful 
and possible GSE concerns that the British government might 
use the information to attempt a rescue of the abductees 
using force.  A third explanation is that the Eritreans were 
just being themselves, i.e., difficult to deal with and 
insensitive or oblivious to how their actions would be 

perceived.  As noted reftels, Post has no basis for believing 
that the GSE either ordered or orchestrated the kidnapping -- 
nor, despite its likely ties to ARDUF, do we have any reason 
to believe that the GSE could have taken any further actions 
to resolve the situation more expeditiously than it did.  The 
GSE has, however, managed to turn a potentially positive 
bridge-building opportunity with the Western nations into one 
where we will continue to harbor questions and doubts about 
the Eritrean role, even if they truly acted constructively on 
behalf of the abductees.  END COMMENT. 
DeLisi
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Posted by on March 18, 2012. Filed under WIKILEAKS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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