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Somalia sends troops to rescue aid workers nabbed by pirates

Soldiers for the transitional Somali government in Mogadishu have increasingly taken on pirate gangs, as they extend their authority outside of Mogadishu.

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Three Kenyan aid workers have been kidnapped in the central Somali town of Galkayo, and Somali authorities say they have sent soldiers to rescue the aid workers from the pirate-controlled town of Garaad on the Somali coast.

Swedish aid agency International Aid Services, which helps Somali communities to developing safe sources of drinking water, functioning sanitation systems, and reliable sources of food, confirmed that three of its workers had been kidnapped near Galkayo by armed men.

Said Abdi Farah, the commissioner of Galkayo town says that three armed guards were wounded during a short period of clashes between the kidnappers and Puntland armed officials.

A local staff member from International Aid Services was shot and seriously injured, according to local NGO sources in Galkayo.

“Security officials told me that the team was travelling between Margaago village and Baadweyn about 45 km from Galkayo," Mr. Farah said. "Our forces tried to save the aid workers but pirates have used heavy weapons to kill and seize foreigners. We deployed our armed forces around those areas and we will try to rescue the kidnapped workers.” 

Khalaf Haji, a resident in Garaad, says that an increase in the movements of pirates with vehicles has been noticed around the village since the abduction of workers. “I don’t know if they are keeping the foreigners here or not,” he said.

Armed forces from Puntland, a semi-autonomous region along the northern coast of Somalia, have been sent out of Galkayo to rescue IAS workers.

“We believe that pirates are not far from here and we will seize the aid workers soon,” Jama Mohamed Ahmed, Mudug police commander told the Monitor.

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