Two Red Cross workers kidnapped at gunpoint in eastern Ethiopia

September 20th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

09/20/2006 – The area has been troubled by a low-level conflict between the army and rebels known as the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

Two international Red Cross workers were kidnapped at gunpoint in a remote part of eastern Ethiopia, forcing the agency to halt operations in the region for the first time in 11 years, officials said Wednesday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross engineers, one Irish and one Ethiopian, were kidnapped Monday in the Ogaden region, largely inhabited by ethnic Somalis. The area has been troubled by a low-level conflict between the army and rebels known as the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

“We have suspended all activities in the Somali region for the moment after 11 years of operating in the region,” said ICRC spokesman Patrick Megevand. “One of the hostages is an Irish citizen and the other is an Ethiopian,” Megevand told The Associated Press. “We are in contact with the perpetrators and are trying to mediate for their release.”

Government spokesman Zemedkun Teckle said Ethiopian police and security are investigating and trying to track down the kidnappers. “No one is sure at this time who the perpetrators are,” he told The Associated Press. “We do not know if it is O.N.L.F or not.” The kidnapping happened near Gode, 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) east of Addis Ababa.

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