Kenya in bid to free workers

NAIROBI - A Kenyan delegation comprising village elders began negotiations to free three foreign aid workers snatched at the weekend by Somali gunmen, police said yesterday.

NAIROBI - A Kenyan delegation comprising village elders began negotiations to free three foreign aid workers snatched at the weekend by Somali gunmen, police said yesterday.

The delegation from Mandera, near the Kenya-Somalia border where the three workers were abducted, left for Somalia to seek the freedom of the foreigners. Details of their nationality and employers have not been released.

"Six elders left on Sunday evening and are now in Somalia to negotiate the release of the foreigners. A meeting was held at the weekend in Mandera, at which it was agreed that diplomacy be used to resolve the matter," a senior police official told AFP.

The official said no ransom had been demanded and "we hope they will not ask for money". The kidnapping of foreigners is rampant in Somalia, a country ravaged by cycles of devastating violence since the ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Four European employees of the French non-governmental organisation Action contre la Faim (Action against Hunger) and two Kenyan pilots, kidnapped in early November, are also still being held.

Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian journalist and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, abducted on August 23 last year, are still being held.

Last week, armed men seized two French agents at a Mogadishu hotel. The Shebab militia holding them said they would be tried under sharia, or Islamic law. - Sapa-AFP

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