U.S. and Danish hostages taken in Somalia are 'well'

Published: October 31, 2011

An American woman and her Danish colleague are alive and well after they were seized by Somali gunmen, their aid agency said Monday.
The Danish Refugee Council made their first contact with Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted on Sunday. The two were kidnapped in the town of Galkayo in central Somalia on Tuesday. They were working for the Danish Demining Group.
“It has been some very long days as we have been waiting for signs of life. It is truly a relief that we now have received the message that they are as well as possible their circumstances taken into consideration,” said Ann Mary Olsen, the head of the Danish Refugee Council’s International Department.
Olsen said the aid agency, which falls under the Danish Refugee Council, is appealing to traditional leaders and clan elders to help release the hostages.
The kidnap comes during a time of turmoil in southern Somalia. African Union troops supporting the weak United Nations-backed government have engaged in fierce fighting in the capital to push Islamist militants out of their last base in the city. On Saturday, the Islamists launched an attack with two suicide bombers — one allegedly Somali-American — and at least ten gunmen on a AU base.
Kenya opened a second front earlier this month after it sent troops across its border with Somalia to engage with the Islamists, whom it blames for carrying out a string of kidnappings on Kenyan soil. Kenyan military chiefs say they are engaging with the militants by land, sea and air.
On Sunday, an airstrike in the town of Jilib killed at least three people and injured 52, mostly women and children, according to Doctors Without Borders. The group says the bombardment hit a camp for displaced families fleeing fighting and famine in their home areas.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991.
Source: AP

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