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Algerian man found alive after 26 years in neighbour’s cellar – BBC News

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Image caption, Omar bin Omran’s family thought he died during the Algerian civil war

  • Author, Lucy Clarke-Billings
  • Role, BBC News

A man has been found alive in his neighbour’s cellar after going missing about 26 years ago.

Omar bin Omran disappeared from Djelfa, in Algeria, during the Algerian civil war in the 1990s, when he was in his late teens.

Now aged 45, Mr Bin Omran has been discovered just 200m from where he grew up.

Officials confirmed they had arrested a 61-year-old man suspected of keeping him prisoner.

Mr Bin Omran’s disappearance came in the middle of a decade-long conflict between Algeria’s government and Islamist groups.

His family feared he had been among an estimated 200,000 killed, or as many as 20,000 kidnapped, during the unrest.

But he was found hidden in a sheepfold under haystacks on 12 May, according to reports.

The public prosecutor’s office received a complaint against an anonymous person claiming that Mr Bin Omran was in the house of one of his neighbours, inside a sheepfold, a court official said.

The court official said: “Following this report, the general prosecutor ordered the national gendarmerie to open an in-depth investigation and officers went to the house in question.

“On 12 May at 8pm local time, [they] found victim Omar bin Omran, aged 45, in the cellar of his neighbour, BA, aged 61.”

The suspect reportedly attempted to flee the scene, but was restrained and arrested, the court official said.

The ministry said the investigation was still in progress and Mr Bin Omran was in the process of receiving medical and psychological care.

A spokesman described the crime as “heinous”.

Mr Bin Omran told his rescuers he had at times seen his family from his prison, but claimed he had been unable to call out for help “because of a spell that his captor had cast on him”, local media reported.

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