Briton freed by Somali gunmen arrives in Kenya

21st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Briton held hostage for close to a week in Somalia arrived in neighbouring Kenya Thursday, a day after being released by his captors, officials said.

Frans Barnard, employed as a security consultant by the British charity Save the Children, was captured on October 14 along with his Somali fixer in Adado, a small town in central Somalia, when heavily-armed men stormed their guest house.

He was released on Wednesday following mediation by local clan elders, one of whom told AFP that a ransom of 100,000 dollars was paid. Save the Children said it was not aware of any ransom.

His plane arrived in Nairobi on Thursday afternoon and Save the Children spokeswoman Anna Ford said he had reunited with his family.

"We can confirm that Frans Barnard is safe and well in Nairobi and has been reunited with his family," Ford said in a statement.

Barnard's family also issued a statement saying: "We are incredibly relieved that first Bashir, and then Frans, were released unharmed," referring to Barnard's Somali fixer, Bashir Lugey.

Earlier in Adado, witness Ahmed Moalim told AFP Barnard "looked very happy when he saw himself sitting on the aircraft that was taking him to Kenya and the local administration officials saw him off."

Local security official Abdullahi Mohamed said members of the gang responsible for his kidnapping were arrested in Adado, a town where the self-proclaimed local administration of Himan and Heeb is headquartered.

"They did something very shameful and they are now paying the price for their misdeeds. Several of them, including the ring leaders, are in jail in Adado," he said.

The Zimbabwean-born Barnard was in Adado as his NGO had been assessing the possibility of establishing a relief programme for malnourished children and their families in the area.

The same sub-clan that kidnapped him still holds a British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, whose yacht was hijacked in the Indian Ocean a year ago.

© 2010 AFP

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