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Man Missing for 26 Years Discovered Alive, Held Captive In Neighbor’s Basement

An Algerian teenager who disappeared in 1998 has been found alive in his neighbor’s basement, where he had been held captive for the past 26 years.

Omar Bin Omran was just 17 when he went missing while traveling to his vocational school more than a quarter-century ago, the New York Post reported, citing Algerian media outlets. Omar, who is now 45 and has a beard, was rescued over the weekend from a hole in his neighbor’s basement, which was used as some sort of sheep pen and covered with hay.

Omran’s family had assumed he had died as part of the country’s civil war with multiple Islamist rebel groups that were occurring in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Daily Mail reported.

The man accused of kidnapping Omran, a 61-year-old referred to only as “B.A.,” has been taken into custody, according to a statement from the Djelfa Attorney General’s Office reported by multiple media outlets.

“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 Omran, who has been missing for about 30 years, is in the house of one of his neighbours, inside a sheepfold,” the statement said, according to the Mail.

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

Omran will receive medical and psychological treatment following his ordeal, the prosecutor’s office said.

The man who allegedly abducted Omran is reportedly a civil servant who was regularly seen buying enough food for two people despite living alone.

Algerian media also reported the alleged kidnapper killed Omran’s dog after it was heard whining near where Omran was being held.

Omran’s mother tragically died in 2013 without knowing that her son was alive and being held captive just 300 feet away from her home. Omran was reportedly made aware of his mother’s death while in captivity.

In a statement reviewed by the Mail, the Algerian Ministry of Justice appeared to suggest that Omran’s family became aware of his location after the alleged kidnapper’s brother mentioned something about the missing man during an inheritance dispute.

As to why Omran didn’t attempt to escape, Algerian media suggested he was unable to due to his diminished psychological state.

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