US, Danish deminers in Somalia seized

2011-10-25 16:39

Nairobi - Somali gunmen kidnapped an American aid worker and her Danish colleague on Tuesday from northern Somalia, officials said.

The 60-year-old Danish man and the 30-year-old American woman were working for the Danish Demining Group when they were seized in northern Somalia, two Nairobi-based officials said. They asked not to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The group did not immediately answer phone calls placed to its headquarters in Denmark following the attack.

Reuters reports that Abshir Diini Awale, minister of the interior and national security in Galmudug, said the aid workers were seized shortly after arriving at Galkayo airport.

"We don't know who kidnapped them but we have alerted our security forces to track down the hostages," he said.

The Danish Demining Group helps dispose of unexploded bombs and teaches communities about the dangers of land mines and other ordinance, according to its website. The role of the two aid workers was unclear.

The kidnapping come only weeks after the seizure of two women working for Doctors Without Borders from a refugee camp in neighboring Kenya, as well as the kidnappings of two European tourists from Kenya's coast. Somali gunmen were suspected in those attacks.

Kenya said that it sent some 1 600 troops into southern Somalia to attack al-Shabaab militants in response to those kidnappings, though it's not clear al-Shabaab militants were responsible for the abductions.

The northern semi autonomous province of Puntland is generally considered more stable than most of the rest of Somalia, which is riven between pirate gangs, Islamist insurgents and militias and the weak UN-backed government in the capital.

It has not had a functioning central government for the last 20 years.

Read more on:    us  |  denmark  |  somalia  |  east africa

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