Saturday, January 21, 2012

US Engineer Kidnapped in Somalia

Although details are sketchy, gunmen kidnapped an American engineer in the northern Somali town of Galkayo earlier today (January 21), according to Somalian officials. The kidnappers surrounded the victim's vehicle shortly after he left a local airport,who then forced the American into another vehicle.

Galkayo is on the border between the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland and a region known as Galmudug, which is ruled by forces friendly to the UN-backed Somalian government.

COMMENT: Reportedly, the American engineer was in Somalia to conduct an evaluation for building a deep water port in the town of Hobyo.

The gunmen severely beat the foreigner's Somalian companion when he begged them not to abduct the victim. The American apparently went to the airport to drop off a colleague from India. He is also believed to have dual citizenship in the US and Germany.

In reviewing the August 19, 2011 travel warning issued by the US Department of State, it says: "The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Somalia and recommends that US citizens AVOID ALL TRAVEL to Somalia.

Given the high rate of kidnappings of foreigners within Somalia and in border areas near Somalia, one wonders whether the victim in this case ever conferred with the US Department of State or Germany's Federal Foreign Office to determine whether he should undertake such a dangerous visit, where there was a high probability of him being kidnapped.

This posting will be updated as information becomes available.

In October 2011, gunmen kidnapped an American woman and a Danish man working for the Danish Demining Group. They are still being held.

Currently at least four aid workers, a French military official, a British tourist taken from Kenya and hundreds of sailors are being held captive in Somalia.

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