, MOGADISHU, Jul 19 – Three foreign aid workers were kidnapped on Saturday in a Kenyan town close to the Somali border by armed men who took them into Somalia.
The three were snatched from their office in Mandera, in northeast Kenya.
"We have been told the Somali militia kidnapped three aid workers from inside Kenya and entered Somalia and we are investigating the incident by tracing the kidnappers," Sheikh Adan Mohamed, a senior official in the neighbouring Somali town of Bulohawo told AFP by telephone.
The nationalities of the three and the organisation for which they worked were not immediately known. Kenyan police have declined to comment on the incident.
"There was an incident and three foreigners were taken away," a Kenyan security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"There was a shootout at their office which was raided by gunmen and they shot a night guard in the head," the official said. "In the process, they took away three people. The people have crossed the border."
An elder in Bulohawo, Adan Wardhere, also told AFP the kidnappers had seriously injured a security guard during the abduction.
"We haven’t seen them yet, but they have crossed the border," he said.
Foreigners are regularly kidnapped in Somalia, which has been mired in civil war since 1991, and usually freed in return for a ransom. Journalists and aid workers are particularly targetted.
Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Geoffrey Brennan, who were snatched on August 23 last year, are still being held by their abductors.
Four European employees of the French non-governmental organisation against hunger Action Faim and their two Kenyan pilots, kidnapped in early November, are also still being held.
Two French security agents were kidnapped at gunpoint on Monday from their hotel in Mogadishu.
On Friday Somalia’s social affairs minister Mohammed Ali Ibrahim told a French news channel they were being held by the hardline Shebab militia, who may be seeking the freedom of Somali hijackers jailed in France.
"We’re heading into tortuous bargaining for their freedom, and it could take a while," he warned.
Fifteen Somali pirates are being held in France after being captured by the French navy in the Gulf of Aden. They are accused of taking part in the hijacking of two French yachts.