Ten French tourists were kidnapped in northern Ethiopia on Friday by unknown people, a businessman and a tour operator who work in the region said.
The tourists were in a convoy of four vehicles in Dalol, 800 km northeast of Addis Ababa, traveling to salt mines in the Afar region when they were kidnapped, said the businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
One of them escaped, got to another group of tourists and made a satellite phone call to authorities in the area to report the kidnapping, which took place around 4 p.M. (1830 IST), the businessman said.
Ethiopian government officials said that they did not have any information on the kidnapping. The French Embassy spokesman was not available for comment. French Foreign Ministry in Paris said they were checking the report.
A tour operator, also aware of the details of the incident and who has tourists in the area, said the group was assumed to be kidnapped, but that could not be confirmed.
The operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that the tourists were clients of Origins Ethiopia, a new tour agency specialising in Afar, and officials of the company had told him that they have been unable to contact the tourists.
Origins officials did not immediately comment.
The visitors traveled in two groups, the operator said. One group of three cars and 11 people and the second of two people in two cars.