Four hostages from French NGO freed

12th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Four kidnapped aid workers have been released in Somalia after nine months hostage.

Paris – Four aid workers from the French relief group Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger) have been released in Somalia after being held hostage for nine months, the French presidency said Tuesday.

Somali gunmen had seized the two French women, a Belgian and a Bulgarian in November 2008, along with two Kenyan pilots who were accompanying them to an area bordering Ethiopia.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was pleased and relieved by the news that the four aid workers and two pilots were now free, a statement from the Elysee presidential palace said.

The French head of state "offers his warmest congratulations to all those whose involvement brought an end to the hostage-taking,"; it added, without elaborating.

The gunmen snatched the four aid workers and the two pilots on 5 November 2008 as they were trying to leave the airstrip in Dhusa Mareb, an Islamist stronghold in central Somalia, to fly to Nairobi.

Witnesses had said the aid workers were escorted by five or six security guards when they tried to board the plane chartered by the European Commission but that they were easily overpowered by about 20 heavily-armed men.

The release of the four aid workers came as France was grappling with a separate hostage-taking involving two French intelligence agents kidnapped last month.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said that France was seeking the rapid release of the two men who were abducted from a Mogadishu hotel room on 13 July 2009.

AFP / Expatica

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