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Two Foreign Aid Workers Seized in Northern Somalia


Gunmen in Somalia's semi-autonomous northern Puntland region have kidnapped two foreign women working for the international aid group Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres or MSF).

Officials in the region say the women were seized in the port town of Bossasso on Wednesday by a gang armed with machine guns. They have been identified as Spanish and Argentine nationals.

A Puntland official says the kidnappers are surrounded in a nearby mountainous area and that so far two of them have been detained.

MSF says negotiations between Somali authorities and the gunmen are underway.

The abductions come two days after Gwen Le Gouil, a French journalist, was released more than a week after he was kidnapped in Puntland. Officials said they secured his release without paying his captors any ransom.

Puntland is relatively peaceful compared to the rest of Somalia, which has been wracked by violence since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. But the region has become a staging ground for kidnappings, piracy and human trafficking.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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