Aid workers feared kidnapped in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) — Two aid workers, one British and one Kenyan, are missing feared kidnapped in northern Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, their organization said on Thursday. (more…)
MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) — Two aid workers, one British and one Kenyan, are missing feared kidnapped in northern Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, their organization said on Thursday.CARE International said the Briton, who is from Northern Ireland, and his colleague had been missing in the Horn of Africa nation since at least Wednesday. A diplomatic source said the incident did not appear to be terrorist-related.
CARE spokeswoman Beatrice Spadacini said it was thought the abductions might be connected with a local issue and that tribal elders were working towards securing a release.
“People are confident,” she said.
A Kenyan source, who tracks Somalia but asked not to be named, said gunmen seized the relief workers in a village some 75 miles (120 km) south of Puntland’s capital Bossasso.
There was no word on who the attackers might be.
Puntland runs itself independently from the rest of Somalia and has been relatively more peaceful in recent years.
But the whole Somali region has a history of abductions and assassinations of local and foreign aid workers, particularly in the self-declared independent enclave of Somaliland. Authorities generally blame militant Islamists for attacks on foreigners.
May be related to fishing dispute
One maritime official said the pair might have been abducted as a “bargaining chip” for use by local fishermen in a dispute over fishing permits with the Puntland administration.
“The fishing community told us they were not happy about what the Puntland authorities are doing and some sources told us that they are behind the kidnappings,” Andrew Mwangura, director of Kenya’s Seafarer’s Assistance Program told Reuters.
A diplomat in Nairobi who follows Somalia closely said: “It does not look like it is terrorist-related.”
Landmine blast kills two in Mogadishu
Meanwhile, in Somalia’s coastal capital Mogadishu, a landmine blast killed two civilians in an attack apparently targeting a truck carrying government troops, witnesses said.
“It exploded as soon as the vehicle passed the junction. One government soldier was also wounded,” resident Hassan Omar said.
Local media said two civilians were also hurt late on Wednesday when unidentified assailants threw a hand grenade at Somali troops guarding a checkpoint near the presidential villa.
Backed by Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes, Somali forces ousted rival Islamist leaders in January and are trying to secure the capital after a surge of bloody fighting.
On Wednesday, Somali security forces in the city were seizing and even burning Muslim women’s veils in an effort to stop Islamist insurgents disguising themselves for attacks.
The government has been fighting an insurgency that has killed at least 1,300 people since February. Just days ago, it declared victory, but is still wary of guerrilla-style attacks.
About 1,500 Ugandan peacekeepers are in Mogadishu as the vanguard of a proposed 8,000-strong African Union force.