According to reports, Somali pirates have purchased two kidnapped aid workers who were working for Doctors Without Borders (also known as Medecins Sans Frontières.) Here, Somalia's top pirate boss, stands on sandy dunes just outside the central Somali coastal town of Hobyo as he watches the outline of a hijacked ship anchored off the coast on August 20, 2010. Garfanji, was behind some of the most spectacular catches in modern piracy -- including the 2008 capture of a Ukrainian ship packed with tanks and weapons -- and at barely 30, Garfanji now runs a small army. But his remains a Robin Hood narrative of Somali piracy as a struggle by dispossessed fishermen against vessels from Europe and Asia violating Somalia's exclusive economic zone and poaching its abundant tuna under naval protection. Fighting a losing battle against the sand that has already completely covered the old Italian port, Hobyo's scattering of rundown houses and shacks looks anything but the nerve centre of an activity threatening global shipping.
Credit: Roberto Schmidt

NAIROBI, Kenya — According to the Somalia Report website, two Spanish aid workers abducted in Kenya last year have been sold to a pirate gang by Al Shabaab militants.

The two Spanish women working for Doctors Without Borders (also known as Medecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) were kidnapped by armed men in the Dadaab refugee camp in October.

Days later, Kenya invaded Somalia, saying it could no longer abide the threats to its security and tourism industry posed by the Shabaab.

The report of the sale of the hostages — if true — is interesting for a number of reasons.

First, it shows they are still alive, which will be a relief to both their families and to their Doctors Without Borders colleagues.

Second, it suggests that elements within the Shabaab may indeed have been behind the kidnappings that triggered Kenya's invasion, despite the group's repeated denials of any involvement.

Third, it reveals something about the links between the Islamists and the pirates who, while they may not work hand-in-hand, are clearly on good terms.

According to the Somalia Report, the pirates paid $100,000 for each woman, and they are now being held in the pirate town of Harardhere along with other hostages, possibly including American aid worker Jessica Buchanan, who was kidnapped from Galkayo in October while working for the Danish Demining Group.

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