Missing Algerian man found alive from neighbour's cellar after 26 years

Missing since 1998, now 45 years old Omar B was found being held by neighbour 200 metres away from home

News Desk May 25, 2024
Kidnapped at the age of 17 in 1998, Omar B, now 45 years old, was found from his neighbour's cellar just 200 metres away from his home. PHOTO: FILE

An Algerian man who disappeared in 1998 was discovered to be alive and being held captive by his neighbour in his cellar after 26 years, announced Algerian authorities earlier this month.

As per Al Jazeera, the country’s justice ministry said the man, identified as Omar bin Omran or Omar B, disappeared when he was 19 years old and was long assumed to have been kidnapped and killed, considering the incident occurred when the country was going through a civil war.

He was found alive years later at the age of 45, being held captive by a neighbour in a sheepfold hidden by haystacks just 200 meters from his old home in Djelfa, part of northern Algeria.

The ministry also informed regarding the ongoing investigation into the heinous crime and stated that the victim was receiving medical and psychological care.

The alleged captor, a 61-year-old doorman, was apprehended by police as he attempted to flee the scene.

The discovery of the kidnapping came to light after the suspect's brother disclosed the crucial information on social media, purportedly stemming from an inheritance dispute between the siblings.

Read Kotri police recover ‘kidnaped’ girl from her sister's house

Detailing the rescue, "On 12 May at 8 pm local time, [they] found victim Omar bin Omran, aged 45, in the cellar of his neighbour, BA, aged 61," a court official stated.

Omar's mother passed away in 2013, unaware of her son's fate.

According to Al Jazeera, reports from Algerian media indicated that Omar conveyed to his rescuers his ability to occasionally glimpse his family from a distance but felt powerless to call out due to a purported "spell" cast upon him by his captor.

The revelation of Omar's survival marks the resolution of a longstanding mystery that had haunted his community since the dark days of Algeria's civil war.

Even now, many families continue to seek closure for their missing loved ones, victims of a conflict that claimed the lives of around 200,000 people during the 1990s, earning the grim moniker of Algeria's "Black Decade."


According to SOS Disparus, an Algerian association dedicated to those who forcibly disappeared during the conflict, approximately 8,000 Algerians vanished between 1992 and 1998 alone.


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