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Somali warlord says his men abducted aid workers

A Somali warlord admitted on Thursday that militiamen loyal to him had abducted a British man and a French woman, both aid workers, but said that the kidnappers acted without his approval.

Osman Hassan Ali "Atto" said that the gunmen, who seized the two employees of the French charity Action Against Hunger (ACF) on Wednesday, also used his vehicles.

An ACF communique said the the kidnappers ransacked the agency's office and looted equipment, before taking French administrator Francoise Deutsch, 46, and British logistician Jonathan Ward, 31, hostage.

The hostages were on Wedneday night visited by an official of the Somali Red Crescent Society who said that they were in good health.

"My men and militias from other sub-clans in Mogadishu attacked and kidnapped the aid workers at the ACF compound without my knowledge. I gave no orders to do so," said Atto.

He said his United Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance faction had appointed a committee to investigate the kidnapping.

"I will try my best to secure the unconditional release of the aid workers kept in my fiefdom," Atto pledged. Atto controls a part of south Mogadishu.



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