Kidnapped UN workers released in Somalia

March 17th, 2009 - 4:01 am ICT by IANS  

Mogadishu/New York, March 17 (DPA) Gunmen late Monday released four UN relief workers - three foreigners and one local staffer - after a brief abduction in Somalia, the UN said.
Marie Okabe, a spokeswoman at UN headquarters in New York, said that the four were released following a brief detention by the armed kidnappers. No details were provided.

In Nairobi, Dawn Elizabeth Blalock, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that the four workers were seized Monday morning as they travelled to the airport in the town of Waajid, around 340 km northwest of Mogadishu.

Blalock said that while the kidnappers were armed, there was no violence or gunfire during the kidnapping, and that UN and local authorities had worked feverishly to free the abductees.

Armed gangs and insurgents have repeatedly kidnapped and murdered aid workers and journalists in Somalia, which has been embroiled in chaos since military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.

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