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PHOTOS by Håkan Björk
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The international relief- and development agency, International Aid Services (IAS), is overjoyed to announce that three of its staff members who were kidnapped in Somalia over 22 months ago have been released and are safe and well.
On 11th July 2012 at approximately 5:30 p.m. an IAS team was attacked by an armed group of people near Galcayo, in Puntland, Somalia. The team was travelling in two vehicles including an escort car with three armed Puntland Police Officers who bravely defended the IAS staff but were overpowered by a much larger group of attackers. All of the police officers recovered from injuries sustained during the attack, as did one IAS employee who was injured but not kidnapped.
This abduction of Janet Muthoni Kanga, Martin Mutisya Kioko and Abdinoor Dabaso Boru has been condemned by both the Kenyan and Puntland Governments, as well as by a number of religious leaders of many faiths.
IAS immediately formed a Crisis Management Team that has worked since the day of the kidnapping to find a resolution to this event. A number of organizations and people, both public and private, also provided invaluable assistance to IAS during this 22 month crisis. For security reasons, IAS cannot name these organizations and people – but they know who they are and we are immensely grateful for their assistance.
IAS also wants to extend its deepest thanks to the families of these three hostages. Despite their overwhelming desire to do almost anything to get their family members back, they extended their trust to the IAS Crisis Management Team, supported that team and even provided invaluable information to that team that was very helpful in finalizing the arrangements for the release of these hostages.
The hostages were released by their kidnappers near the city of Galcayo today on 5th June 2014. With the assistance of the United Nations and the Galmudug Government, the hostages were taken to a safe location until they will be flown back to Nairobi and reunited with their families and friends, and debriefed. Although all will undergo routine medical screenings, we believe that they are uninjured and under the circumstances, in reasonably good health. During the period of their captivity, the IAS Crisis Management Team was able to speak to the hostages on a number of occasions, and was able to arrange the delivery of supplies from time to time.
The IAS Crisis Management Team conducted discussions with many persons claiming to be holding these hostages during this 22 month ordeal. In most cases, callers were quickly identified as frauds and dismissed. Extended discussions with the actual kidnappers resulted in the release of the hostages reported today. The kidnappers claimed to be Somali pirates and IAS developed no information to discredit that claim.
IAS staff, alongside colleagues with other international NGOs, continue to work in Somalia, Puntland and other dangerous locations around the world. We remain concerned about the increase of attacks on humanitarian workers, not only in Somalia, but also in the broader region where IAS operates. We are committed to take necessary steps to mitigate risks for our own staff and to also engage in the wider discussion on ensuring staff safety in vulnerable and hostile environments.
It is too early in the reintegration/recovery process for Janet, Martin and Abdinoor to speak to the news media. We kindly ask you to respect their privacy. IAS will, at this stage, have no further comments on the circumstances surrounding this issue.
Nairobi, June 5, 2014
International Aid Services
International Aid Services
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