- Al Shabaab - Islamism - Mogadishu - Somalia
AFP - A Canadian reporter and an Australian photographer held hostage in Somalia for nine months said they are in poor health and want more help from their governments to secure their release.
Freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout and photographer Nigel Brennan spoke to an AFP correspondent in Mogadishu by phone for five minutes on Sunday from an undisclosed location.
The call was obtained after weeks of efforts to establish contact with the hostages, who appeared to be reading or reciting a statement, possibly under duress. There was no independent confirmation of their identities.
"I have been sick for months. Unless my government, the people of Canada, all my family and friends can get one million dollars, I will die here, OK that is certain," Lindhout said, sounding very distressed.
She urged the Canadian government to give more help to her family's attempts to secure her release after 274 days in detention with Brennan. The pair were abducted while on a freelance assignment.
The call was made through an intermediary, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of the kidnappers.
A Somali journalist and two drivers who were captured with Lindhout and Brennan were released on January 16.
"The situation here is very dire and very serious. I've been a hostage for nine months, the conditions are very bad, I don't drink clean water, I am fed at most once a day," Lindhout said.
"I'm being kept... in a dark windowless room, completely alone," she added.
"I love my country and I want to return so I beg my government to come to my aid. Likewise, I ask all my fellow Canadian citizens and my family to contribute in any way possible in order to help me finally be released from Somalia and be able to return home," said Lindhout.
The pair's kidnapping has been one of the longest in recent cases of abductions in Somalia, which is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists and aid workers.
All previous kidnappings of journalists have ended with the release of the hostages amid claims that ransoms were paid.
The kidnappers have made no political claims since the kidnapping but negotiations for their release have reportedly collapsed several times.
Brennan also said that the nine months of detention had taken a heavy toll.
"I've been shackled for the last four months... My health is extremely poor and deteriorating rapidly due to extreme fever," he said.
"I implore that my government help me as a citizen of Australia (inaudible)... I ask for the help of my family in every way possible so that the ransom can be paid for my release," Brennan said.
"I love my country very much, I love my family, my girlfriend," he added.
When the AFP reporter asked Lindhout further details on her health situation, she said she was not able to take further questions.
"I cannot answer any question that you have. What I just said, that's all I can say," she said.
In Australia, a foreign ministry spokesman said: "We are doing all we can to help the families and media coverage will not help negotiations."