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Kidnapped Israeli said rescued from Ethiopian captors following shootout

Rescue mission by Ethiopian special forces successful; Israeli authorities had previously suspected Francis Adbabayi’s kidnapping was a hoax

An Israeli citizen kidnapped in Ethiopia three weeks ago was freed on Monday and will return to Israel, Hebrew media outlets reported.

According to the reports, Ethiopian special forces liberated Francis Adbabayi, 79, from his captors following a shootout near the Sudanese border. Adbabayi lives in Rishon Lezion.

Earlier in the month, police in Israel and Ethiopia indicated they suspected that Adbabyi’s kidnapping was a hoax. However, it appears the abduction was real.

Hebrew reports said Adbabayi’s family had contacted National Unity MK Pnina Tamano-Shata after becoming disillusioned with the Foreign Ministry’s handling of the matter. The former immigration and absorption minister reportedly sought the assistance of an Ethiopian-Israeli who has contacts in the Ethiopian special forces and secret services.

Two weeks ago Adbabyi’s children flew to Ethiopia to search for their father and negotiated with his captors, Channel 12 and Ynet reported.

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Kan news aired a recording of a conversation between Adbabyi’s children and his captors. According to reports, the kidnappers demanded 2.5 million Ethiopian birr, some NIS 160,000 ($44,000), for Adbabyi’s release. The family said that they could not afford the ransom.

Ethiopian authorities’ investigation advanced simultaneously, leading to Monday’s operation

Screen capture from video of Fernos, left, and Avi, the daughter and son of Ethiopian-Israel Francis Adbabayi who was kidnapped in Ethiopia, July 2023. (Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israeli authorities have so far not commented on the latest developments in the case.