Gunmen kidnap Kenyan in Somali capital

May 14, 2008 12:00 am

, MOGADISHU, May 13 – Somali gunmen abducted a Kenyan teaching at Mogadishu University on Tuesday, the latest foreigner to be seized in a country which is facing a fierce Islamist insurgency, witnesses said.

Moses Nyandusi Matundura, a government affairs lecturer, was seized in southern Mogadishu’s K4 district as he was driving from the campus and driven to an unknown location.

"The kidnappers armed with pistols stopped the teacher’s car and forced him to change direction after which they took him," said one witness Mohamed Ali Sheikh.

"We have been told that negotiations are under way to secure his release," said Abdinasir Adam, a university student.

Several foreign nationals, notably aid workers, have been kidnapped in recent years in Somalia, which has been grappling with lawlessness since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Kidnappers are still holding two aid workers, a Kenyan and a Briton seized in April in southern Somalia whose whereabouts remain unknown.

The UN and aid groups have scaled down operations in Somalia owing to increased insecurity, largely blamed on Islamist militants who have waged a deadly guerrilla war since they were ousted by joint Somali-Ethiopian forces in early 2007.

Amnesty International pleaded with the militants to end the kidnapping and killing of foreign workers in Somalia — a nation where some 2.6 million Somalis, including a million displaced people, require help to feed themselves.

"There is no excuse for attacks on humanitarian workers in any conflict, regardless of their nationality," Amnesty said in a statement released in the Kenyan capital.

"Armed groups that are preventing humanitarian access during this period would be contributing to, and increasing, the risk of widespread starvation among the Somali people. If threats and attacks continue, the results could be catastrophic."

Earlier this month, the Islamist rebels pledged to kill foreigners and pro-government supporters after US airstrikes killed their leader Aden Hashi Ayro, who was accused of being the Al-Qaeda leader in the country.

Last week, gunmen killed a truck driver working for the World Food Programme in central Somalia, raising fears over the safety of foreigners.

The United Nations, facing flak for indecisiveness and paralysis in the Somali crisis, is currently trying to build trust between the government and moderate Islamists at talks that opened on Monday in Djibouti.


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