Kenyan team in Somalia for talks to free aid workers

July 20, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI — A Kenyan delegation comprising village elders began negotiations to free three foreign aid workers snatched at the weekend by Somali gunmen, police said Monday.

The delegation from Mandera, a town near the Kenya-Somalia border where the three were abducted, left for the Somalia side to seek the freedom of the foreigners. Details of their nationality and employers have not been released.

"Six elders left Mandera last evening (Sunday) and are now in the Somalia side trying to negotiate the release of the foreigners," a senior police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"A meeting was held at the weekend in Mandera where it was agreed that diplomacy be used to resolve the matter," he added.

The official said no ransom has been demanded and "we hope they will not ask for money."

The kidnapping of foreigners is rampant in Somalia, a Horn of Africa country ravaged by cycles of devastating violence since the ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Last week, armed men seized two French agents at a Mogadishu hotel and the Shebab, an Al Qaeda-inspired militia holding them, said they would be tried under sharia, or Islamic law.

Four European employees of the French non-governmental organisation against hunger Action against Hunger (Action contre la Faim) and their two Kenyan pilots, kidnapped in early November, are also still being held.

Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Geoffrey Brennan, abducted on August 23 last year, are still captives.


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