An international aid organization says that two of its workers kidnapped in Somalia's semi-autonomous province of Puntland earlier this week are safe.

CARE International's director in Somalia, David Gilmour, said in a statement that the men - one Kenyan and one British - are unharmed and that village leaders are in discussions for their release.

Gilmour added that CARE's "focus remains on a speedy and safe resolution for all concerned."

The two men disappeared Wednesday in Puntland where they were surveying a construction site for two jetties.

One maritime official suggests the abductors may be seeking to use the hostages as bargaining chips in a dispute with Puntland authorities over fishing rights.

CARE has provided emergency relief and refugee assistance in Somalia since 1981.

Three fishing vessels were seized last week off the coast of Puntland.

Forces from Puntland and the breakaway republic of Somaliland engaged in heavy fighting last month.

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