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Somali Gunmen Free British Aid Worker


Frans Barnard, employed by the British Save the Children charity, speaks to the media after his release in Adado on October 20, 2010.

Frans Barnard, employed by the British Save the Children charity, speaks to the media after his release in Adado on October 20, 2010.

A British aid worker kidnapped by Somali gunmen last week has been released.

Local authorities say Frans Barnard, who works for the British charity Save the Children, was freed overnight Tuesday some 250 kilometers from Abado, the town where he was abducted.

Save the Children spokesperson Anna Ford confirmed the news.

"He is safe and well," Ford said. "He is in good spirits. He said it is marvelous that he has been released and we look forward to seeing him soon."

Barnard was kidnapped near the Somali-Ethiopia border, along with a Somali colleague who was released unharmed soon after the abduction.

VOA Somalia Harun Maruf's interview with former hostage Frans Barnard:

Ford says no ransom was paid for the release.

"I think it is important to point out that it was actually the clan elders and the local administration that negotiated his release," she said.

Ford says the men were in Adado to survey the area in preparation for a new program to help children who are sick and malnourished.

London-based think tank Chatham House analyst, Roger Middleton, says the kidnapping may create problems for the aid group.

"This raises a number of problems for them. The area where the consultant was looking at was considered a place that might be an area that would be suitable for some new activities for Save the Children. This will obviously make them think about that very seriously," Middleton said.

He says it is very difficult for charities to carry out work in Somalia because there is very little security.

"Many groups like al-Shabab and some of the other Islamist groups have effectively banned them from operating in their areas," Middleton said. "And that is especially true for international NGOs [non-governmental organizations], so the famous ones that we are familiar with here [in Britain], some smaller Somali-based ones, they are able to operate still but it is a very, very difficult environment in the south and in central Somalia."

Barnard told VOA's Somali Service that the international focus should be on releasing a British couple, Rachel and Paul Chandler. They have been held for more than a year in the same area where he was kidnapped.



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