SOMALIA

Kidnapped journalists have been freed in Somalia

Spanish photographer Jose Cendon (our picture) and a British unnamed reporter, kidnapped by an unknown group on November 26 in the Gulf of Aden, have been freed according to the police of Puntland, a region in northern Somalia.

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AFP - Two journalists, from Britain and Spain, were released Sunday after almost six weeks' captivity in Somalia's breakaway Puntland state, the head of Puntland police said.

"The two journalists are free after their ordeals," said Abdullahi Said Samatar. "They're taking some rest now and they will be available later. I'm happy to see them recovering their freedom."

Samatar said the duo were recovering in a hotel room, and staff at the International hotel in Bosasso, Puntland's economic capital, said the pair "look in good condition".

The British newspaper writer, expected to be named formally, and Spanish photographer Jose Cendon were in the country to report on piracy.

They were seized on November 26 on their way to Bosasso's airport along with two Somali journalists who had been assisting them.

Cendon worked for a variety of media throughout east Africa, including AFP.

Regional governor Musa Gueleh Yusuf said at the end of November that police suspected involvement by the two Somalis. There was no news Sunday of their whereabouts.

While there was no claim of responsibility for the abductions, Puntland's deputy minister for seaports Abdulkebir Musa said in the days following their kidnapping that the journalists were being held in a territory controlled by a clan figures with close links to pirates.

Britain and Spain had set up a crisis cell to assist police in negotiations, which began with local elders within days of their disappearance.

Lawless Somalia -- whose president threw in the towel last week -- was ranked as the world's second-deadliest country for journalists throughout 2007 by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

In August 2008, two freelance journalists, an Australian and a Canadian, were kidnapped near the capital Mogadishu and are still being held.

In December 2007, French cameraman Gwen Le Gouil was kidnapped and held for eight days by a local militia.

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