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Man Missing Since 1996 Found Captive In His Neighbor’s Underground Store

Man Missing Since 1996 Found Captive In His Neighbor’s Store

An Algerian man, who vanished in 1998 during the nation’s civil war, has been discovered alive in his neighbor’s basement 26 years later, according to official statements.

The Ministry of Justice announced on Tuesday that the man, referred to as Omar bin Omran or Omar B., went missing at 19 and was believed to have been kidnapped or killed. This week, at 45, he was found alive after being held captive in a sheepfold concealed by haystacks, just 200 meters from his former residence in Djelfa, northern Algeria.

Authorities stated that a thorough investigation into this “heinous” crime is underway, and the victim is currently receiving both medical and psychological support. The alleged captor, a 61-year-old doorman, was arrested while attempting to flee. The discovery came to light following a social media post by the suspect’s brother, who revealed crucial details amid an inheritance dispute.

A court official reported, “On May 12 at 8 PM local time, [authorities] found Omar bin Omran, aged 45, in the cellar of his neighbor, BA, aged 61.” 

Omar bin Omran’s mother passed away in 2013, with the family still believing he was dead. Algerian media indicated that bin Omran told his rescuers he occasionally saw his family from a distance but felt unable to call out due to a “spell” cast by his captor.

Bin Omran’s rescue ends a decades-long mystery in his community dating back to Algeria’s brutal civil war. Many families of war victims continue to seek justice for their missing and deceased relatives. The conflict, known as Algeria’s “Black Decade,” saw approximately 200,000 deaths and up to 20,000 kidnappings between the 1990s and 2002. SOS Disparus, an organization for people who forcibly disappeared, estimates around 8,000 Algerians went missing between the year 1992 and 1998 alone.

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