Somalis name kidnapped Western journalists

Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:48am EDT
 
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By Abdi Sheikh and Ibrahim Mohamed

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's journalists' union identified two Western reporters kidnapped near Mogadishu and said on Sunday it believed they were being held hostage by gunmen in the capital.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) named them as Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian reporter based in Baghdad but freelancing for French television and Canada's Global National News, and Nigel Brennan, a freelance Australian photojournalist.

A local translator and a local driver were also seized.

"No formal claim of responsibility has been made and the motive for the kidnapping remains unknown. As well, there have been no demands," the NUSOJ said in a statement.

But it said information received from its local members early on Sunday suggested militiamen were holding the pair hostage in Mogadishu's northeastern district of Suqa Holaha.

"It is not clear whether they are being held for political purposes, (as) bargaining chips or for financial purposes. But journalists who spoke on condition of anonymity for their security said the abduction seemed to be a pre-planned attack."

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 since the start of the insurgency last year nine local correspondents have been killed.   Continued...

 
<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>