Tourist kidnapping puts Ethiopia in the limelight

Northeastern Ethiopia is a spectacular yet barren expanse of volcanoes and ancient salt mines where bandits and rebels operate.

This out worldly landscape attracts only aid workers and adventure travelers who are willing to travel even with armed guards to see geographical wonders like the Danakil Depression. However the mysterious kidnapping of five Europeans and eight locals has put the international spotlight on this region now.

Friends and family of the three Britons, one French woman and one British-Italian woman abducted, along with Ethiopians who were helping facilitate their trip, are frantically worried about their conditions.

All fingers are pointing to a local Afar separatist rebels who want to damage the countries reputation amongst travelers.
The Afar region’s 1,4 million inhabitants, mainly nomads, occupy one of the earth’s harshest terrains. Here, rock-strewn hills give way to vast deserts below sea level, and dry river-beds and acacia thorn-trees dot the landscape. The Afar (Danakil) have a fearsome reputation, most notably for their old habit of cutting off foes’ testicles.

Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old skeleton also known as Australopithecus afarensis, described by scientists as one of the world’s greatest archaeological find, was found in the Danakil Depression

In 1995 rebels from the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front had kidnapped Italian tourists but released them a week later, the AFDUF has been fighting for years against Ethiopia and Eritrea over lands inhabited by ancient Afar.

I hope that these tourists will be released unhurt as well. However, the incident is likely to put a dent in the regions tourism.