Three aid workers released by Somali gunmen

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Officials in Kenya say three foreign aid workers with the aid group Action Against Hunger, that were kidnapped by Somali gunmen in July in northern Kenya, have now been released. Authorities say that the three were released on Saturday and are expected to fly to Kenya's capital of Nairobi.

After their abduction by gunmen in the Kenyan border town of Mandera on July 17 of this year, the three were taken into Somalia. It is not clear whether a ransom was paid for the release of the humanitarian aid workers. Their nationalities were: Pakistani, American, and Zimbabwean.

"A small plane flew the hostages out of the airport at Luq after they were freed by their kidnappers," said an official for the rebel Islamist movement Hezb al-Islam to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Somalia has been devastated by internal violence for eighteen years since 1991, when the last stable government by Siad Barre collapsed. Foreigners are frequently kidnapped in the country. Kidnap victims usually are released unharmed, but in many cases only after a ransom is paid.