PLEA FOR BRITONS KIDNAPPED IN ETHIOPIA
AT the time of our going to press efforts to find five Britons kidnapped in Ethiopia were being stepped up after their bulletriddled cars were found.
The group's luggage and mobile phones were still inside the Toyota Land Cruiser and a Land Rover Discovery vehicles which were found at the last staging post before the Afar Desert region, 500 miles north-east of the capital Addis Ababa.
In a statement, the British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Robert Dewar, said the welfare of those missing is "our absolute priority" and he believed they could have been victims of mistaken identity.
Mr Dewar said: "If, as has been speculated, the group is being held against their will, it may be they have been victims of mistaken identity.
"Whatever the case, there will be those in the community who are willing and able to facilitate their safe return." Experts from the Foreign Office are in the Afar Desert where the group was last seen.
It is believed SAS troops have been sent to the region, although The Ministry of Defence refused to comment on whether special forces are involved.
The Britons, who included members of the British Embassy in Addis Ababa, went missing last week. Ethiopian police said 13 Ethiopians, working as drivers and translators, were also taken. Meanwhile, neighbouring country Eritrea dismissed as "baseless fabrication" accusations that its forces are behind the kidnappings.