Foreign hostages held in Somalia

12th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

A French secret agent under the alias of Denis Allex remains hostage in Somalia after a military operation on Saturday failed to free him. Of the several foreigners known to be held captive in the war-torn country, the Frenchman has been held hostage the longest. Below are details of the other kidnappings.

- April 1, 2008: British aid worker Murray Watson and a Kenyan colleague are abducted by armed men in southern Somalia. There have been no recent reports of their whereabouts.

- July 14, 2009: Allex, an agent for the DGSE foreign intelligence service, is seized from his Mogadishu hotel by Islamist militants.

A second French agent captured at the same time. Marc Aubriere, resurfaces in Mogadishu in late August, claiming he had managed to escape.

The French government believe Allex was killed by his captors from the Shebab group during the January 12 but the Al Qaeda-linked movement said the hostage was still alive. The Islamist fighters also claimed they had captured a member of the commando team.

- October 13, 2011: Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra, Spanish aid workers for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), are kidnapped from eastern Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp and taken to Somalia.

On March 5 the Spanish foreign ministry said the two are still alive and in good health. They are reportedly being held in southern Somalia.

- January 21, 2012: An armed gang abducts an American writer in central Somalia. Ecoterra, an environmental and rights group monitoring regional maritime activity, says the writer is being held along with two other hostages, an Israeli and a Seychellois.

Pirates also hold hundreds of sailors, whose plight goes largely unnoticed, awaiting payments of ransoms for them and their vessels. On December 31, 2012, pirates held eight ships and between 108 and 139 crew members, according to EU maritime agencies.

Hostages that were freed in 2012:

- January 25, 2012: US special forces rescue an American, Jessica Buchanan, and Poul Thisted, a Dane, who worked for the Danish Refugee Council and were being held by a pirate gang, in a pre-dawn raid.

- March 21, 2012: British hostage Judith Tebbutt is released, more than six months after she was abducted from an isolated Kenyan resort by kidnappers who killed her husband.

- June 21, 2012: South African couple Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz are freed after being kidnapped from a yacht in October 2010 near the Gulf of Aden.

© 2013 AFP

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