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Africa’s youngest billionaire free 9 days after abduction

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — The man described as Africa’s youngest billionaire said Saturday he is free more than a week after his abduction from a luxury hotel in Tanzania’s commercial capital, while police suggested his captors came from South Africa.

“I thank Allah that I have returned home safely,” said a statement released by the 43-year-old Mohammed Dewji’s foundation. It did not give details about the Oct. 11 abduction or what led to his release but thanked police for working for his safe return.

Dewji, while arriving at the hotel for a workout, had been seized by two masked gunmen who fired into the air before driving away. Regional authorities have said two white men were seen on surveillance video, and they tightened controls at border posts and airports.

“We got information that the abductors used the same car that was used to seize him at the Colosseum Hotel and dumped him at gymkhana (sports facility) grounds,” Dar es Salaam Regional Police Chief Lazaro Mambosasa said on Saturday.

“We found him there physically fit, and we suspect that the abductors are South Africans because he said they were communicating in one of the vernacular from that country.”

The inspector general of police, Simon Sirro, later told reporters that the captors had demanded a ransom but he didn’t divulge the amount or say whether it was paid.

Police seized the vehicle along with an AK-47 assault rifle, two pistols and several rounds of ammunition, Sirro said.

The captors had tried to burn the vehicle after dumping the billionaire, he added.

Tanzania’s Environment Minister January Makamba, in a statement posted on Twitter, said he had spoken with Dewji and “he’s the usual Mo. So he is okay.”

Forbes magazine in 2016 put Dewji’s wealth at $1.5 billion.

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