Thursday, October 27, 2011

2 still missing in Somalia kidnapping and one arrested

Two foreign aid workers kidnapped in Somalia remain missing but a Somali man who was believed abducted with them has been arrested, a Danish aid organization said Wednesday.

Gunman seized the two international workers, an American woman and a Danish man, after they visited humanitarian projects in the northern Galkayo area Tuesday afternoon, the Danish Refugee Council said.

"The Somalian aid worker, also missing, is now in the custody of the local police, and his role in the incident will be further investigated," the council said in a statement.

The pair, as well as the Somali man, were working for the council's demining unit, which aims to make civilians safe from landmines and unexploded ordnance.
The council said its staff members are very experienced and had been trained to work in high-risk areas. No shots were fired in the course of the kidnapping.

The organization has temporarily suspended its activities in the Galkayo area, considered part of Somalia's Puntland province, but is continuing its work elsewhere in the East African country, it said.

"We are very sad about the incident," said Ann Mary Olsen, head of the council's international department. "At the moment Somalia and the rest of Horn of Africa is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. People are in acute need of relief aid and it is quite tragic that we are targeted like this."

Olsen said the organization is working closely with local authorities to try to resolve the situation.

The council currently helps up to 450,000 people affected by drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa, its statement said, and has been involved in humanitarian efforts there for over a decade.

A number of high-profile abductions of foreigners have occurred in recent weeks in Kenya, close to the border with largely lawless Somalia. Those kidnappings have been blamed on the Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab.

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