Six foreigners taken hostage in central Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Nov 05, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Six foreign nationals including four aid workers and two pilots were abducted on Wednesday by unidentified gunmen in the central Somali town of Dhusamareb, the provincial capital of Galgadud region, the regional governor said.

Hussein Ali Wehliye, Governor of central Somali region of Galgaduud, said the aid workers were about to fly to Nairobi, Kenya, when the gunmen overpowered the bodyguards accompanying them. He said the aid workers were staff of the ACF (Action Contre la FaimAction Against Hunger) aid agency.

"I was told that the gunmen overpowered the bodyguards of the ACF staff and were taken outside the town (of Dhusamareb)," Wehliye told Xinhua by phone from Dhusamareb, 550 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Wehliye could not verify the nationalities of the abducted foreigners but unconfirmed local media reports said that the six included a Belgian, a Polish and two French nationals all working for the ACF aid agency while two pilots were reportedly from Kenya.

Reports from Shusamareb said the pilot and the assistant pilot were also taken to an unknown location along with the four aid workers.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the latest abduction in Somalia where a number of other foreigners are being held hostage for ransom.

Locals and foreigners are kidnapped in Somalia mainly for ransom and are mostly released after intervention by local clan elders who wield substantial influence on militias.