Published: Fri, May 04, 2018

Red Cross aid worker kidnapped in Somalia

Red Cross aid worker kidnapped in Somalia

Daniel O'Malley, the ICRC's deputy head in Somalia, said: "We are deeply concerned about the safety of our colleague".

Somalia is one of the world's most risky places for aid workers.

"She is a nurse who was working every day to save lives and improve the health of some of Somalia's most vulnerable people", he said.

A police operation is underway, said local officer Major Mohamed Hussein: "We got the report minutes after she was abducted and now we are searching the whole area".

In March, Abdulhafid Yusuf Ibrahim, a Somali national who had worked for ICRC for only five months, died after a bomb exploded beneath his vehicle as he left the office.

He said security forces had found an abandoned vehicle belonging to the kidnappers, and witnesses told AFP the auto had been abandoned with a punctured tyre.

Abdi Asiis Hildhibn, spokesman for the internal security minister, told media that gunmen stormed ICRC headquarters in Mogadishu and kidnapped a German nurse. He said the suspect is known and "the government is chasing their whereabouts".

"We have received information indicating a female western staff member was kidnapped from the ICRC office in Mogadishu", said Abdirahman Mohamed.

Last October, almost 300 people were killed in two truck bombings in Mogadishu.

In recent years, the number of foreign aid workers in Mogadishu has increased as security improves after a quarter-century of violent chaos. "This is a sad reality that we must face".

Violence against aid workers in Somalia went up sharply previous year, including the abductions of more than 30 humanitarian staffers, in part because of scaled-up relief operations outside the capital during the drought.

The airport acts as the city's "Green Zone" housing foreign embassies and the United Nations which coordinates the humanitarian and political responses to Somalia's crises.

However, al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants still regularly launch attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

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