Jazeera airs video of kidnapped Canadian, Australian

Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:21pm EDT
 
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DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Jazeera television on Tuesday aired a video showing a Canadian and an Australian journalist kidnapped in Somalia last month, and said the pair were appealing to their governments to work for their release.

Canadian Amanda Lindhout, 27, Australian Nigel Brennan and Somali reporter Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, working as their translator, were seized on August 23 by gunmen near Mogadishu.

The video showed Lindhout, wearing a long robe, and her colleague along with armed men. She was speaking to camera but the audio track was not aired.

The television said the kidnappers, calling themselves Mujahideen of Somalia, had accused Canada and Australia of "taking part in the destruction of Somalia" and demanded that they review their policies.

An official of the group Reporters Without Borders said last week that the kidnappers were seeking $2.5 million for the return of the captives.

Somalia's Islamist insurgents have denied being behind the kidnapping.

Abductions are common in the lawless Horn of Africa nation, where Islamist insurgents have been fighting the interim government and its Ethiopian military allies since early 2007.

Somalia is also one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to operate. Many reporters have been attacked and at least nine local correspondents have been killed since the start of the insurgency last year.

Two Italian aid workers kidnapped near Mogadishu were freed on August 5 after being held hostage for more than two months. Humanitarian sources told Reuters a substantial ransom had been paid to their captors, but Italy's government denied that.

(Reporting by Firouz Sedarat; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

 
<p>Kidnapped Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan is seen in this undated handout photo obtained August 24, 2008. REUTERS/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/Handout</p>