Somalia - Three journalists, two of them foreigners, and their driver kidnapped by gunmen for unclear reasons



    MONTREAL, Aug. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is worried
about the abduction of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout,
Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan and Somali photographer
Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi. Gunmen kidnapped them and their driver Mahad
yesterday near Mogadishu for reasons that are not yet clear.
    Lindhout, who is normally based in Baghdad, works for French TV station
France 24 and Global National News of Canada.
    "Prudence is required in Somalia, where the situation is complex and
journalists and humanitarian aid workers are often abducted by militias acting
with very diverse motives," Reporters Without Borders said. "But we hope that
the broadest possible diplomatic effort and the help of Mogadishu clan chiefs
will result in the safe release of the three journalists and their driver very
soon."
    Lindhout and Brennan, who arrived in Somalia on 20 August, set off from
their Mogadishu hotel with Elmi, who was acting as their interpreter, and with
their driver yesterday morning to visit a refugee camp at Afgoye, about 20 km
west of the capital.
    The Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, the
National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), said it had been told that the
journalists were ambushed on their way back, at a point 13 km outside the
city. The alarm was sounded by hotel staff when they noticed that the
journalists had not returned.
    It is not yet known if they were kidnapped for ransom or for political
reasons. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the abduction or
issued a ransom demand. NUSOJ said it had received information indicating that
the abduction may have been premeditated and that an as yet unidentified
militia could be holding them in Suqa Holaha, a district on the northeastern
outskirts of Mogadishu.
    A few hours before the kidnapping, Ahmed Jeylani of Radio Voice of Holy
Kuran was arrested on the night of 22 August in Mogadishu by members of the
federal transition government's police force, who held him at a police station
without any charges and refused to explain their action after releasing him.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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