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Somalia – abductions

French security advisors abducted in Mogadishu

Article published on the 2009-07-14 Latest update 2009-07-15 13:35 TU

(Map: RFI)

(Map: RFI)

Two French nationals were abducted from their hotel rooms in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Tuesday. The French Foreign Ministry confirmed that the pair were helping the federal transition government of "in security matters."

The statement gave no further details about the incident except to say that a number of French agencies had been mobilised to locate the missing agents.

A senior government official, who spoke to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, said the pair had been training the country’s intelligence services. The official said they had only been in the country for nine days.

Police and witnesses suggested that about a dozen armed men were involved in the abduction.

"More than 10 gunmen on a military vehicle stormed the hotel early this morning," Mohamed Ali, a police officer said. "They disarmed the security guards and then went straight for the foreigners' rooms."

"I saw a pick-up truck and another one with a dozen heavily-armed militants enter the hotel. I didn't realise something bad was happening until I saw two white guys in shorts being taken away at gunpoint," said Hasan Yare, a local grocer, told AFP.

Initial reports had suggested the missing pair were French journalists.

Six Somali journalists have been killed since January alone and kidnappers have held two freelancers, Canada's Amanda Lindhout and Australia's Nigel Brennan, since August last year.

The Sahafi (journalist in Arabic) hotel is popular with foreign reporters and is close to the K4 junction where Ugandan peacekeepers from the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom) are stationed.