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2 Kenyan aid workers, Somali doc kidnapped

12 July 2012, 07:51

 Mogadishu - Two Kenyan aid workers and a Somali doctor were kidnapped in lawless northern Somalia on Wednesday, probably by pirates, police said.

The kidnapping occurred near the city of Galkayo, which straddles the border separating the semi-autonomous state of Puntland and the separate region of Galmudug to the south.

"Two Kenyans and a local Somali doctor were kidnapped and the initial reports indicate the kidnappers were pirates, but we are still investigating the incident," Galkayo police official Adan Warsame told AFP.

A second Galkayo police official, Mohammed Ise Hassan, said the kidnapping took place on Wednesday afternoon near the village of Baadweyn, about 50km north of the city.

Hassan said a driver and two police escorts were also wounded during the incident.

Several employees from aid agencies and non-governmental groups in Galkayo and Garowe, another town farther north, told AFP the victims work for the Swedish group International Aid Services (IAS).

The group released a statement in Sweden confirming the kidnappings, but listing those abducted as three Kenyan expatriates. It said armed assailants had taken the three to an unknown destination.

The abductions marked the latest in a string of kidnappings of foreigners in unrest-plagued Somalia.

Joint operation

Somalia has been roiled by unrest and without an effective government for nearly 20 years, with Islamists, warlords, criminal gangs and pirates controlling portions of the vast east African country.

Last week four foreigners working for the Norwegian Refugee Council were released in southern Somalia following a joint operation by Somali and Kenyan forces three days after their kidnapping.

In October 2011, gunmen seized two Spaniards working for Medecins sans Frontieres in the Dadaab refugee camp. They are still being held hostage in Somalia.

Also that month, a Dane and an American were kidnapped in Galkayo and held hostage for three months before being freed by US special forces.

In June, two South African sailors who had been kidnapped in the Indian Ocean in 2010 were freed by Somali special forces after they had apparently passed from pirates to Islamist insurgents.

In July 2009, a French agent for the DGSE foreign intelligence service, identified by the pseudonym Denis Allex, was seized from his Mogadishu hotel by Islamist militants.

He remains in captivity.



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