Two Spanish aid workers kidnapped in Kenya

13th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Somali Islamist Shebab rebels on Thursday kidnapped two female Spanish aid workers from Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, a regional police official said.

"Two aid workers of Spanish nationality have been kidnapped by the Shebab, they are working for MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres)," Leo Nyongesa, regional police chief, told AFP.

"Two women have been kidnapped from Ifo camp, and taken away by people we believe are from Somalia," said police spokesman Erick Kiraithe, who added that the women's Kenyan driver was wounded.

"A driver who was taking them around was shot and seriously wounded before he was thrown out," he said.

"We have deployed a helicopter and a search operation is currently underway, but it is being hampered by heavy rains in the area," he added.

Another police official said the aid workers were taken in a four-wheel drive vehicle that was being driven at high speed towards Somalia's border.

The kidnapping is the third abduction of foreigners in just over a month, with a French and British national taken from coastal regions by Somali gunmen.

Earlier this month Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu was seized from her beachfront home in Kenya's popular tourist destination of Lamu, and taken to Somalia.

Gunmen also captured British holidaymaker Judith Tebbutt from Lamu district and killed her husband before taking her back to the war-ravaged nation.

No demands have been made public by the gunmen for the release of the hostages.

Dadaab, the world's largest refugee complex, is home to some 450,000 refugees, most of whom have come from Somalia, fleeing either drought or war or a combination of the two.

The Kenyan authorities have on several occasions expressed fears that Islamist extremists would infiltrate the Dadaab camps from Somalia, as the border lies barely 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.

The camps are so sprawling that policing them is extremely difficult, Kenyan authorities say.

The camps have seen a huge influx of people this year due to harsh drought with over 13 million people affected across the Horn of Africa.

The drought has hit Somalia especially hard, with famine declared in southern regions by the UN.

The Al-Qaeda linked Shebab control much of southern Somalia, and recently fought heavy battles with local Somali militia backed by Kenyan military along the border areas, close to Dadaab.

A Kenyan driver working for the international aid organisation Care Kenya is still missing after he was abducted in September at gunpoint from Hagadera camp in the Dabaab complex at the wheel of his vehicle.

Kenyan authorities have said they boosted security along the border following the abductions from Lamu.

Lawless Somalia has had no effective government ever since it plunged into repeated rounds of bloody civil wars beginning in 1991, allowing a flourishing of piracy, militia armies, and extremist rebels.

© 2011 AFP

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