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'The Kidnappers Want Ransom for Tourists' - Puntland Official

Jun 26, 2008

A security official with the Somali regional government of Puntland has said that local authorities are taking the case of four kidnapped tourists from Europe "very seriously."

Jama Hersi Farah, Puntland's state minister for security, told Radio Garowe that the Puntland administration had dispatched traditional elders to deal with "the kidnappers from Puntland."

A Germany family and a French captain were kidnapped Monday from the Gulf of Aden, with the Associated Press reporting the family's young son is sick. [ Full story]

"The kidnappers told the elders that they want ransom for the tourists," Farah said, adding that the Puntland government has strict regulations prohibiting ransom payments.

The Puntland security official accused ship owners of "paying millions" to kidnappers and pirates, who only reinforce their illegal activities.

According to Mr. Farah, officials from the breakaway region of Somaliland "have no business in this matter."

The group of Europeans was kidnapped near the coast of Sanaag region, where police officials now believe the captives are being held.

Sanaag is etched between Somaliland and Puntland and claimed by both administrations, who have clashed over control of the area in the past.

On Tuesday, Somali pirates holding a Dutch-owned ship and nine crew members from Russia and the Philippines released them after a US$1.2 million ransom was paid, according to sources.

'The Kidnappers Want Ransom for Tourists' - Puntland Official

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