Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks delivers fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

WEB NEWS

Israel and Hamas battle online over public opinion

Read more

  • Live: France says missing Algerian plane 'probably crashed'

    Read more

  • 51 French nationals aboard missing Algerian plane

    Read more

  • Algerian jet vanishes: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Deadly Israeli strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to easy victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European aviation agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death arrives in Italy

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

Africa

Four kidnapped UN aid workers are freed

Latest update : 2009-03-16

Three foreign aid workers and a Somali employed by the United Nations were freed on Monday, just hours after being kidnapped by local militiamen in southern Somalia, UN staff said, thanks to negotiations led by elders and officials.

AFP - Three foreign aid workers and a Somali employed by the United Nations were freed Monday, hours after being kidnapped by local militiamen in southern Somalia, elders and UN staff said.
  
The four were snatched from their car by armed men on their way to an airstrip in Wajid, a food aid hub 340 kilometres (210 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu, early in the morning.
  
"Efforts to secure their release were conducted by local elders and officials from the Shebab movement. These efforts have finally succeeded and the hostages are free," a local UN employee said on condition of anonymity.
  
The Shebab are a hardline Islamist organisation opposed to the national unity government led by President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and who control large swathes of the troubled Horn of Africa country.
  
Officials had said that the kidnapping was likely motivated by resentment among some clans over perceived imbalance in UN recruitment for local jobs.
  
A local elder told AFP that no ransom was paid to obtain the four aid workers' release.
  
"The hostages were freed unconditionally and they are now safe in their compound," Abdullahi Nur Yerow said. "There were talks between the kidnappers and local elders, who contributed to their release."
  
The United Nations in a statement had confirmed the kidnapping earlier but did not specify the hostages' nationalities.
  
"They were on their way to the airport when their convoy was stopped by gunmen. No violence or shooting was reported to have occurred during the incident," the statement said.
  
A local UN employee who asked not to be named said the four work for the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
  
The UN employee added the hostages had recently flown back from the city of Hargeysa, in the northern self-declared state of Somaliland, and were making a stopover in Wajid on their way to Nairobi.
  
The WFP has offices in Wajid, a major food distribution centre for the region.
  
Jobs with UN agencies are highly sought after in the impoverished country and recruitment is often a source of tension, with local clans and sub-clans demanding equal shares.
  
Kidnappings of foreign aid workers and journalists by ransom-seeking armed groups are frequent in conflict-wracked Somalia.
  
UN agencies attempting to deliver food aid to the 3.25 million Somalis it estimates need humanitarian support have been repeatedly targeted.
  
Four WFP employees have been killed in the Horn of Africa country since August last year.
  
Two elderly Italian nuns kidnapped on the Kenyan side of the border in November were recently released after being held for three months and a foreign mine worker abducted in Puntland was also freed last month.
  
There is still no word from a Canadian journalist and an Australian photographer abducted last August, although a Somali journalist and two drivers taken with them were released in January.
  
A tribal chief negotiating their release said in September the kidnap gang wanted a ransom of 2.5 million dollars (1.95 million euros).
  
Four aid workers employed by the French NGO Action Contre la Faim (Action against hunger) and their two Kenyan pilots have been held hostage in Somalia since November.
  
The spate of kidnappings has complicated the delivery of aid to the most affected populations in Somalia, a country long plagued by civil wars and humanitarian emergencies.
  
The country has had no effective central authority since the 1991 ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre touched off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.
 

Date created : 2009-03-16

COMMENT(S)