Abducted aid workers released in Somalia

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mogadishu - Two foreign aid workers kidnapped by Somali gunmen two weeks ago were released on Tuesday without ransom payment after local elders held negotiations with captors.

"The two aid workers from Holland and Belgium were released by the gunmen after the elders intervened and negotiated their safe release, without any payment of ransom," said Shiekh Mohamed Khayr Salad, mayor of Rabdhure town, in the south-central Somali region of Bakool where the aid workers were kidnapped.

"The two men are now with the elders and will be flown back to Nairobi soon," Mr Salad said.

The two hostages were seized two weeks ago by a group of armed men as they were travelling in Bakool.

The gang holding the two foreign aid workers initially demanded a ransom of 4 million US dollars for their release, but local elders from the gang members' sub-clan and local Islamist officials persuaded them to release the aid workers without ransom.

Other Somali gunmen are holding several foreign hostages including journalists and aid workers, and have been demanding ransom for their release.

Hostages are usually treated well by their captors in expectations for huge sums of ransom, but the condition and the terrain where they are held is often quite difficult.