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Six Foreign Captives Released in Somalia


Somali kidnappers have released six foreign hostages. The four European aid workers and their two Kenyan pilots were released Tuesday after eight months of captivity.

The hostages had been held since November 2008.

The four Europeans were in Somalia with aid group Action Against Hunger. Two of the hostages were French, one Bulgarian, and the other Belgian. The two Kenyan pilots had been hired to help the four workers flee the area.

The aid group would not discuss the specific details of the hostages' release, but it was reported no ransom was paid.

Action Against Hunger is one of a few aid groups that have continued working in the country. Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Westerners.

According to a spokesperson for the group's French headquarters, before the kidnapping the group had multiple bases in the country, running nutrition, food distribution, and water sanitation programs.

After the kidnapping of its workers, the group was forced to cut most of its programs. It now focuses mostly on its nutrition efforts.

Spokesperson Sylvain Trottier says because of security conditions, foreign workers only visit the group's operations for occasional short trips.

"As most of the NGOs working in Somalia, most of these programs are running in rebel controlled territory, so there are no expatriates currently in Somalia," said Trottier. "They just make some quick visits from time to time."

The four aid workers were in Somalia for a short visit. When they heard that rebel groups were entering the area, they hired the two Kenya pilots to fly them out. But all six were captured before they could leave the ground.

A new wave of kidnappings hit Somalia last month.

Two French citizens who were acting as security advisors to the embattled transitional Somali government were taken from their hotel in Mogadishu. A few days later, three foreign aid workers in a Kenyan-Somali border town were abducted.

None of these recently-taken hostages has yet to be released.

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