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Man found alive in hole in ground after neighbour held him captive for nearly 30 years


A man who mysteriously vanished aged 19 has been found nearly 30 years later inside a hole in the ground after being allegedly abducted.

Omar Bin Omran (or Imran) disappeared from the city of Djelfa, in the north of Algeria, 26 years ago, with his family assuming he had died during the civil war that raged across the country for over a decade in the 1990s and 2000s.

But the key to learning what had happened to Imran was much closer to home – more precisely 200 metres away from his childhood home.

The now-45-year-old was rescued from the home of his 61-year-old neighbour who allegedly held him captive in a secluded area on the man’s property for the past 26 years.

Footage has been circulated on Algerian television showing the moment a terrified Omar was found in what appeared to be a hole in the ground in what police described as a sheep pen.

The clip shows officers shining their torches into the pit as the 45-year-old looks up in apparent shock.

The new search for the missing man was sparked after the neighbour’s brother started complaining on social media amid an ongoing inheritance dispute.

The man’s comments prompted Omar’s family to storm their neighbour’s home in search of the missing man.

Once Omar was found, the alleged kidnapper reportedly tried to flee the scene before he was restrained and arrested.

Local newspaper El Khabar reported that the then-17-year-old vanished into thin air after leaving home to head to vocational school.

An initial search for Omar was launched shortly after he went missing in 1998 but the family came to believe he had been the victim of violent rebels active in the area at the time.

Omar’s mother died without learning of his fate nearly a decade ago and he is believed to have been informed about her death while he was being held captive.

Following his rescue, a cousin wrote on Facebook: “Thank god my cousin was found. Bin Imran Omar is in good health after 26 years of disappearance. Awaiting details of the case and investigations.”

Public prosecutors said the man will now be receiving psychological support to help him recover from his ordeal while vowing to get him justice.

A court official in Djelfa said: “Two days ago, on 12 May 2024, the Public Prosecutor’s Office received, through the regional department of the National Gendarmerie in El Jadid, a complaint against an anonymous person claiming that the complainant’s brother, Omar bin Imran, who has been missing for about 30 years, is in the house of one of his neighbours, inside a sheepfold.

“Following this report, the General Prosecutor of the Court of Idrisiya in the province of Djelfa ordered the National Gendarmerie to open an in-depth investigation and officers went to the house in question.

“The missing person was found and the suspect, the 61-year-old owner of the house was arrested.”

Officials added that the “perpetrator of this heinous crime” will be tried with “severity.”

Asked why he had not tried to attract his family’s attention for nearly 30 years, Omar allegedly claimed he hadn’t been able to because of a “spell” his neighbour had cast – a claim officials blamed on his diminished psychological state.

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