Somali gunmen kidnap UN aid workers

Published on Wednesday 2nd April 2008

Somalia, April 02: Somali gunmen on Tuesday kidnapped two contractors, a Briton and a Kenyan, working for a U.N.-funded project in southern Somalia, the United Nations said.


The local commissioner of Bu'aale town, Ibrahim Noleye, identified the men abducted Tuesday as a Briton and a Kenyan who worked in his region. A Somali aid worker was quoted as saying that the Englishman was wounded during an exchange of gunfire between the Somali bodyguards and the gunmen, agency reports said. Hajir Bille, an official from the Juba region, said the identity and motives of the gunmen is unknown. He added that security forces are looking for the kidnappers. Local militias were pursuing the kidnappers in the hope of freeing the captives, residents said, and local clan elders were pressing the gunmen to release the two men. "Two foreign nationals -- a Briton and a Kenyan -- were abducted this morning by unknown gunmen between Saakow and Bu'aale in Middle Juba," the U.N. country office for Somalia said in a statement. The two work for Genesys International Corporation Ltd of Bangalore, India, which has been hired by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation to carry out a survey of the Juba and Shabelle rivers, the statement said. It did not give their names. A call to Genesys offices in Bangalore was not answered. "Witnesses on the ground say there was gunfire when the men were taken, but there is no information to suggest that any serious injury was sustained by either man," it said, referring to reports that one of the men had been wounded. The two are being held in or near the town of Jilib, and "clan elders and community leaders who do not condone such abductions are putting pressure on the perpetrators to release the men," the statement said. UN aid helps million of Somalians each year, but a number of aid workers have been increasingly targeted by kidnappers and land mines in recent months.