Conflict & Justice

Somalia: pirates suspected in kidnapping of 3 aid workers


An armed pirate keeps vigil along the coastline at Hobyo town, northeastern Somalia on Jan. 7, 2010. A six-nation east African regional bloc on February 1, 2010 urged Somalia's two breakaway regions of Puntland and Somaliland to jointly battle Islamist militia which it said had extended to the areas.



An aid group in Somalia has reported that three of its workers were kidnapped by armed men in the center of the country, probably by pirates.

The website AllAfrica identified the aid workers as two Kenyans and a Somali doctor working for the Swedish group International Aid Services (IAS).

IAS carries out water, food, education and sanitation projects in the vast east African country.

Agence France-Presse cited an IAS statement in Sweden as confirming the kidnappings but listing those abducted as three Kenyan expatriates. 

They were reportedly taken Wednesday afternoon in Ba'adweyne district, about 30 miles north of Galakyo in Somalia's semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.

"The team was traveling in two vehicles including an escort car with three armed Puntland Police Officers who were overpowered by the attackers," Xinhua quoted IAS Executive Director Leif Zetterlund as saying.

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One Somali staffer was shot and critically injured during the attack, the Associated Press reported.

A government official told the AP that the three had been taken to Garaad, a town used by Somali pirates.

The abductions are the latest in a string of foreigner kidnappings in Somalia, where Islamists, warlords, gangs and pirates still control portions of the country.

Galakyo township enjoys relative peace, Xinhua wrote, and several UN and aid agencies have offices there.

Four foreigners working for the Norwegian Refugee Council were kidnapped last week in southern Somalia but freed three days later in a joint rescue operation by Somali and Kenyan forces.

Somalia has been without an effective government for nearly 20 years, AFP noted.

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