Kidnappers targeting Eritrean refugees

April 3, 2013 at 9:43 AM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, April 3 (UPI) -- Eritreans living in Sweden say their relatives in African refugee camps are being kidnapped and threatened with torture or death if ransom isn't paid.

At least 20 families have been subjected to such ransoms and the number could be higher, the Swedish news agency TT reported Wednesday.

Refugees who have fled the oppressive regime in Eritrea have been abducted from camps in Egypt and ransom demanded from their relatives who have been granted asylum in Sweden.

The 20-year-old brother of Lola Habtom was one such victim. His kidnappers demanded she pay $35,000 or they would cut out her brother's heart and kidneys.

After she paid the ransom, the brother was dumped in the Sinai desert and managed to make his way to the Israeli border. Another kidnap victim freed with him didn't survive.

In Sweden alone, the number of Eritreans who have endured such ransom kidnappings may be closer to 300, said Swedish-Eritrean human rights activist Meron Estefanos.

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