Dutch, Belgian aid workers kidnapped in Somalia

19th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported Sunday that two of its aid workers were missing in Somalia, hours after a humanitarian source told AFP that gunman had kidnapped two aid workers.

MOGADISHU - The Belgian section of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders, MSF) said it had lost contract Sunday with two of its personnel in Somalia: one Belgian, the other Dutch.

But it refrained from confirming they were abducted.

"For the moment, we can say no more," MSF spokesman Michel Peremans told reporters. "We don't know what happened."

He did not disclose the identities of the two missing medical workers.

Earlier Sunday, a humanitarian source who asked to remain anonymous told AFP that gunmen in southern Somalia had kidnapped two aid workers, one from Belgium and the other from the Netherlands.

"The two aid workers were kidnapped on their way to Hodur (a town near the Ethiopian border) after they returned from an assignement," the source said, adding that their driver had been freed along with their vehicle.

"We don't know where the kidnappers took them," the source said.

Kidnappings of foreign aid workers and journalists by ransom-seeking armed groups are frequent in conflict-wracked Somalia.

UN agencies attempting to deliver food aid to the 3.25 million Somalis it estimates need humanitarian support have been repeatedly targeted.

Four WFP employees have been killed in the Horn of Africa country since August last year.

The spate of kidnappings has complicated the delivery of aid to the most affected populations in Somalia, long plagued by civil wars and humanitarian emergencies.

Somalia has had no effective central authority since the 1991 ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre touched off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.

AFP / Expatica

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