18 Oct 2010

Kidnapped security consultant for charity group reported to be OK

12:55 pm on 18 October 2010

Save the Children says a British security consultant who was kidnapped by armed gunman in Somalia is "well and is being looked after".

The consultant, and a local worker, who was later freed unharmed, were seized in the town of Adado on Thursday.

However, spokeswoman Anna Ford said in Nairobi that Save the Children was still extremely concerned for the welfare of the man - a British national who was born in Zimbabwe.

The BBC reports he had gone to the area to see if it was safe enough for Save the Children to set up a new base to help malnourished and sick children, along with their families.

But on Thursday evening, a group of masked gunmen stormed a building used as a staff residence.

The hostages were reportedly taken into an area said to be controlled by al-Shabab, a hardline Islamist group which has links to al-Qaeda.

Pirate links

Adado, which is near the Ethiopian border, is closely linked to pirate groups.

Until now, the BBC reports that Adado had been seen as a relatively stable part of Somalia, with aid groups considering relocating there after being forced out of more volatile regions.

Several foreigners have been kidnapped in Somalia in recent years.

Most were freed unhurt after a ransom was paid.