gunmen held hostage two aid workers, a French woman and a
British man, in the capital Mogadishu for a second day Thursday
as negotiations continued for their release. French aid agency
Action Contre la Faim said its employees, French administrator
Francoise Deutsch, 46, and Briton Jonathan Ward, 31, a logistics
worker, were believed to be unharmed.
I can confirm is that these people are still hostages, there
is a process of negotiation continuing and we understand they
are in good health,'' ACF spokeswoman Beatrice d'Ervau told
Reuters from the agency's Paris headquarters.
a Foreign Ministry spokesman said France and Britain agreed
to join efforts to secure their release. He said the ministry
and the British Foreign Office were closely monitoring developments
and keeping in constant contact with ACF in Paris and Nairobi.
were snatched from their compound in the capital early Wednesday
by around 20 heavily armed militiamen.
fieldworker escaped to safety. Somalia has been without a
central government since 1991 and is carved up into fiefdoms
ruled by feuding militia factions.
one of the world's poorest countries, but violence and lawlessness
make it an extremely dangerous place for aid agencies to operate.
Most foreign embassies have closed, and a U.S-led international
peacekeeping mission pulled out in 1995 after suffering heavy
casualties at the hands of the militia.
is now split broadly in two, and residents of the city said
the hostages were being held in an area controlled by Osman
Ali Atto, a henchman of warlord Hussein Aideed.
newspaper said Ali Atto had denied involvement in the kidnapping
but had admitted the abduction ``was executed using my vehicles
which had been stolen by robbers.'' The paper said the militia
leader had appointed a team of elders to negotiate the hostages'
1998, 10 Red Cross staff were abducted in Mogadishu but released
unharmed after nine days.
doctor was shot dead in an ambush in central Somalia last
September. For security reasons, many aid agencies have scaled
down their operations in the Horn of Africa nation or have
pulled out completely.