Somalia hostages unharmed, aid group says

Bodyguard admits betraying Danish and American aid workers

November 1st, 2011 9:44 am| by admin
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Dane Poul Hagen Thisted and American Jessica Buchanan are alive and well, the Danish Refugee Council learned on Sunday. The aid agency is now appealing to Somali tribal leaders and clan elders to help get the hostages released.

The two humanitarian workers, aged 60 and 32 respectively, werekidnapped in Galkayo in Somalia’s central tribal region last Tuesday. They were working for the Danish Refugee Council's de-mining group, which has since halted its activities in Somalia.

“It is truly a relief that we now have received the message that they are as well as possible considering their circumstances,” said Ann Mary Olsen, head of the Danish Refugee Council’s international operations.

Olsen told Politiken newspaper that she received news about Thisted and Buchanan from a reliable source.

According to the website Somalia Report, two pirates were killed and three were wounded Saturday when rival clans clashed over control of the two hostages.

The clashes in Hinlabi, some 160 kilometers east of Adado, erupted after a second group of pirates from Galkayo attempted to forcibly take control of the kidnapped aid workers.

Thisted and Buchanan were taking part in a de-mining seminar in the town of Galkayo last week when 10 heavily armed men surrounded their vehicle.

 

The kidnapping took place in area considered pirate territory in border region near Puntland (Map: Google)

It was initially reported that a Somali bodyguard had also been kidnapped. But according to Somalia Report, Abdirisak Ma’in Sheikh Dhere, who pretended to be their head of security, admitted to Somali police the following day that he had conspired with pirates to abduct the hostages.

 

Dhere said the aid workers were being transferred to the Mudug region and would be handed over to a local pirate group.

The Galkayo region is split between a northern section under the control of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and a southern part under the control of the Galmadug clan.

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