Gunmen kidnap western foreigner in central Somalia

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 21, 2012 9:53 AM
Gunmen kidnap western foreigner in central Somalia

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Gunmen kidnapped a western foreigner in central Somalia's Galmudug region on Saturday, local government and military officials said, adding that they believed the assailants had been the man's own guards and might be linked to a pirate gang.

"Gunmen kidnapped the foreigner and we understand they took him to Hobyo," Abshir Dini, interior minister of the semi-autonomous region, told Reuters, referring to a coastal town that is a known pirate base.

Colonel Mohamed Hussein, a local military official, said the hostage had been part of a two-man group who had been in the region under the pretext of being journalists, but that their exact mission was unclear.

"He was kidnapped by his own guards. We understand the clan militia have a link with a pirate leader in Haradheere," Hussein said, in reference to a second pirate lair just south of Hobyo.

Kidnappings are relatively common in the anarchic Horn of Africa country, considered among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, aid workers and private contractors to work in.

The other man, Hussein said, flew earlier to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Neither had contacted local officials about security when they arrived, he said.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Mohamed Ahmed; Writing by Richard Lough; editing by David Stamp)