Kenyan and Somali troops rescued four aid workers in Somalia two days after they were kidnapped from a United Nations refugee camp in northeastern Kenya, and killed one abductor during the operation.
Two gunmen fled the firefight that broke out about 11 p.m. local time yesterday, Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Cyrus Oguna said by phone from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The four hostages are from Canada, the Philippines, Pakistan and Norway and work for the Norwegian Refugee Council, he said.
“We received local information that they had carjacked a vehicle and we used that to lay an ambush,” he said today. “There was a lot of collaboration locally.”
Kenya’s military entered neighboring Somalia in October to fight al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked militia, after blaming it for the kidnapping of at least four foreigners and murder of a British tourist that risked the country’s tourism industry. It earned 98 billion shillings ($1.2 billion) last year.
The identity, motives and affiliation of the kidnappers was not clear, Oguna said. Kenya’s remote frontier, which borders Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Uganda, for decades has been the site of banditry, smuggling and criminal activity.
Al-Shabaab, which has fought a five-year-insurgency against Somalia’s UN-backed transitional government, vowed to attack Kenyan targets in response to the military incursion. Kenyan troops, along with Somali and African Union forces, have driven the Islamic militants out of a series of cities and towns, including Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, this year.
Kenya’s entry into Somalia has been followed by blasts, kidnappings and assaults authorities in most cases blamed on al- Shabaab. Attacks yesterday on two churches in the Kenyan town of Garissa, 200 miles (322 km) northeast of Nairobi, killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 50, police said.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said it “is relieved and pleased” the kidnap victims were safe, according to a statement on the charity’s website. They are receiving treatment for minor injuries in Dhobley, about 4 miles from Kenya’s border, and will be taken to Nairobi soon, Oguna said.
The four were abducted on June 29 from a convoy in the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya, which houses more than 450,000 people, many of whom fled war and drought last year in Somalia. A Kenyan driver was killed in the attack.
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