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Africa

Kidnappers release six foreigners, including two French nationals

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-08-11

Somali kidnappers have freed six foreigners, including two French nationals, two Kenyans, one Bulgarian and a Belgian, who were seized in November 2008 in central Somalia, a Mogadishu airport official said.

The French NGO Action Contre la Faim (ACF) confirmed on Tuesday that Somali kidnappers had released six foreigners seized in November last year in central Somalia. ACF stated in a press release that the victims are “apparently all in good health, they’ll have medical check-ups.”

 

The victims comprised four ACF aid workers (two French nationals, a Belgian and a Bulgarian) and their two Kenyan pilots. According to an ACF spokeswoman, the four aid workers boarded a plane and were flown to safety out of Somalia.

 

The gunmen snatched the six on November 5 as they were trying to leave the airstrip in Dhusa Mareb, an Islamist stronghold in central Somalia, to fly to Nairobi, Kenya. Witnesses had said the aid workers were escorted by five or six security guards when they tried to board a plane but that they were easily overpowered by about 20 heavily-armed men.

 

There is no word yet as to the circumstances of the prisoners’ release.

 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a written statement that he “rejoices and expresses his immense relief” at the news, adding that he reaffirmed “his determination to struggle against these criminal acts.”

 

The ACF has been present in Somalia since 1992.

 

Somalia has been without a stable government for two decades, and has been mired in violent, internecine clashes between the government and various Islamist groups. It is considered one of the world’s most dangerous nations for international aid workers.

 

 

Date created : 2009-08-11

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