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Two French Security Advisors Seized in Somalia


Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped two French security advisors from a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

Witnesses say at least 10 men stormed the Sahafi Hotel Tuesday, and grabbed the two foreigners from their rooms.

The kidnapped men had registered at the hotel as journalists. But the French foreign ministry says they were on an official mission to help the Somali government with security matters.

The ministry says all appropriate French agencies have been mobilized to help find the two.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abductions. Several witnesses say some of the gunmen were wearing government uniforms.

Sources in Mogadishu tell VOA the kidnapped men were taken into a part of the capital controlled by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab is the most powerful of several Islamist groups trying to topple the Somali government.

The government recently appealed for foreign assistance to help fight the insurgent groups.

The Paris-based media rights group, Reporters Without Borders, said it hoped for the men's quick release but expressed shock that they had been posing as journalists.

The group said being a journalist is not a cover, it is a profession. It said their behavior endangers journalists in a region where reporting is already very dangerous.

Somalia is chaotic after 18 years of internal strife, and foreigners are frequent kidnap targets.

Kidnap victims usually are released unharmed, but in many cases only after a ransom is paid.

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

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