Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Negotiations start for French reporter in Somalia

Abdiqani Hassan, B Hull, G Obulutsa, A Yusuf, K Weir, Reuters (UK)

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned the kidnapping of Gwen Le Gouil in Somalia's northern Puntland region on Sunday, saying it underscored the precarious nature of journalism there. Deputy Bari region governor Yusuf Mumin Bidde told reporters that the Puntland administration would not allow the kidnappers to extort a ransom. Somali kidnappers are known to treat their captives well and almost never kill them, viewing them as an investment on which they expect a return in the form of ransom ... A colleague of Le Gouil's in Nairobi from their small TV company Cargocult Production, Jean Laurent confirmed Le Gouil was in Somalia working on a piece for the Franco-German TV network Arte Television. NUSOJ said the story was about human trafficking of African migrants to Saudi Arabia through Yemen. Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ secretary general, said that the kidnappers fired at Puntland troops who tried to secure Le Gouil's release on Sunday night. Known for its relative stability in a country plagued by lawlessness, semi-autonomous Puntland has become increasingly associated with kidnappings, hijackings and piracy.

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