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Militants ambush aid workers in Kenya, kidnapping 4, including a Canadian

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 file photo, parts of Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, are seen from a helicopter in northern Kenya. Security officials in Kenya say attackers ambushed a convoy of aid workers Friday, June 29, 2012 at Dadaab near the Somali border and kidnapped international and Kenyan workers. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

NAIROBI, Kenya – Federal officials were scrambling Friday to learn more about  the fate of a Canadian, reportedly one of four international aid workers that  officials in Kenya said were kidnapped in their country by Somali militants.

“What I can say is that we are aware of a reported kidnapping in Kenya,” said  Claude Rochon, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa, in an  email.

“We are pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information and are  in close contact with Kenyan authorities. We will not comment or release any  information which may compromise these efforts.”

Canada’s top priority, Rochon added, is the “safety and security of its  citizens.”

Somali militants ambushed an aid convoy Friday, killed a Kenyan aid worker  and kidnapped the four international workers at a Kenyan refugee camp near the  border with Somalia, officials in Kenya said. Police in Kenya said they were  pursuing the attackers.

The workers from the Norwegian Refugee Council were kidnapped after gunmen  attacked a two-car convoy travelling through the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp,  said police official Philip Ndolo. Dadaab hosts nearly 500,000 Somali  refugees.

The gunmen killed a Kenyan driver for the aid group during the attack, Ndolo  said. Earlier reports said one Kenyan driver was also kidnapped but a security  official said only the four internationals were in hostage takers’ hands.

Ndolo said that police and military security personnel were pursuing the  attackers. Kenya deployed troops into Somalia last October, so even if the  kidnappers succeed in crossing back into Somalia, they may have to contend with  Kenyan troops on the other side of the border.

A Norwegian Refugee Council spokesman in Norway, Rolf Vestvik, said he could  not yet confirm any of the details of the incident. However, Vestvik did say  that the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson was  in Dadaab during the attack. Vestvik said Rasmusson is safe and unharmed.

A spate of kidnapping attacks by Somalia gunmen across the border in Kenya  last year were one of the reasons Kenya used to publicly justify its military  push into Somalia last year.

Last October gunmen entered Dadaab and snatched two Spanish women working for  Doctors Without Borders. The two are still being held, likely in Somalia. Gunmen  also carried out kidnapping attacks around the coastal resort town of Lamu.

Since those attacks, Kenya has moved thousands of troops into Somalia,  complicating the blueprint used by previous ambush attacks: grab a valuable  international aid worker, resident or tourist in Kenya and take them back to the  safehaven of Somalia in hopes of eventually collecting ransom.

Despite the presence of Kenyan military troops, al-Shabab militants still  control wide swaths of southern Somalia, and if the kidnappers make it into that  region the hostages could be in for a long ordeal.

No claim of responsibility was immediately made after Friday’s attack.

Source: :

Kismaayodaily On June - 30 - 2012

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