Two foreign aid workers kidnapped in Somalia

April 02, 2008

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MOGADISHU, April 1: A Briton and a Kenyan initially identified as UN aid workers were kidnapped by armed men on Tuesday in southern Somalia in the latest in a string of attacks targeting humanitarian operations. Local elders said gunmen opened fire during the attack and one of the hostages was slightly wounded.

However UN officials later explained in Rome that the two were not actually members of the staff of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a United Nations agency, as originally reported.

They said the victims were in fact working for an Indian-based group sub-contracted to do aerial survey work for the FAO.

Confirming the nationalities and the abductions, the FAO said they were employees of Genesys International Corporation, an information technology firm based in Bangalore, India.

In a communique published at FAO headquarters in Rome, it said the Genesys was operating in Somalia under a contract to the FAO.

In Somalia, Genesys undertakes aerial surveys to prepare detailed maps in order to help sections of the population affected by floods caused by rise in the water level of the Juba and Shabelle rivers.

Local district commissioner Ibrahim Noleye originally told AFP “two foreign aid workers from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) were intercepted by armed militiamen on their way to Buale.” “We believe they are being held hostage,” he added.

“There is one from Kenya and the other is British. I have worked on projects with them before,” said a Somali aid worker on condition of anonymity.

Several local elders confirmed the nationalities and the British foreign office in London said it was investigating the incident.

The abduction took place on a road leading to Buale, in Somalia’s southern Lower Jubba region, north of the city of Kismayo.—AFP