Pirates offer to sell dead woman's body

2011-10-20 19:16

Paris - Kidnappers who seized a wheelchair-bound French woman, who later died in Somalia, are now trying to sell her body, France's defence minister said on Thursday.

Marie Dedieu, 66 and a cancer sufferer, was abducted in the early hours of October 1 from a private house on the island of Manda on Kenya's northern coast.

Dedieu died, probably after her captors failed to give her the daily medication she needed, France said on Wednesday.

"You have to know that the hostage takers are even looking to sell her body... It is completely disgusting," Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said on i-Tele TV.

"Letting her get blood poisoning, which is what she probably died of, and then trying to sell her body [shows] that these people only deserve contempt," Longuet added.

A wave of kidnappings spurred Kenya to send troops across the border to support government forces in neighbouring Somalia in a risky attempt to secure the frontier and its hinterland.

The abductions have threatened Kenya's multi-million dollar tourism industry.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday Paris had been trying to secure Dedieu's freedom and to pass medication to her captors through four different channels, but the kidnappers had not given it to her.

Somali pirates

Somali pirates had said she was being held in Somalia. The al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab militant group controls large chunks of the lawless country's south and central regions.

Analysts and diplomats in the region have warned that Somali pirates were likely to turn to softer targets, such as tourists in Kenya, in response to more robust defence of merchant vessels.

Longuet said it was unlikely the kidnappers would be caught and face justice. "The most likely is that they will destroy each other because it is a permanent state of civil war, [in Somalia]," he said.

Dedieu was the fourth French citizen to die in 18 months after being taken hostage.

France still has eight nationals held overseas, including a member of its security forces in Somalia, three aid workers in Yemen and four in North Africa's Sahel belt, who will mark their 400th day in captivity on Friday.

Read more on:    marie dedieu  |  kenya  |  somalia  |  east africa  |  somali pirates
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