Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kenyan Government Demands Release of Kidnapped Nuns and Driver

Iranian Press TV is carrying the following piece:

Kenya has threatened to raid Somali territories to free the abducted Italian Catholic nuns believed to be held by al-Shabaab fighters.

Kenya Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said Tuesday that the government had warned the fighters affiliated with the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia to release the nuns, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Al-Shabaab has not formally claimed responsibility for the abduction.

"We have given them [al-Shabaab] the ultimatum to return back those Catholic nuns and to return the vehicles, three of them, including the Kenyan [driver]. And we are very firm on that one," he said, adding that the group had violated Kenyan sovereignty. "This, you have to understand, was a violation of our own boundary," the minister emphasized.

Two nuns and their driver were kidnapped after gunmen attacked the town of Elwak, in Mandera Central District, on the border with Somalia last week.

Cross-border raids are common in the region, with Kenyan forces struggling to maintain security along the border. Humanitarian workers have mainly become the target of kidnappings, raising concerns over the safety of foreigner aid workers in the region.

Insurgents, clan militias or criminal gangs are usually blamed for the attacks.

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