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Somalia25 October 2004

Woman journalist abducted, held overnight in Mogadishu

Zamzam Abdullahi Abdi, member of the governing board of the Somalia Women Journalists Association (Sowja), was abducted yesterday and detained overnight by unidentified armed individuals in Mogadishu before being released today, Reporters Without Borders said.

"We welcome the fact that Abdi was released safe and sound, but her abduction reinforces the urgent need to rebuild a state in Somalia. We call on President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, as part of his new duties, to do justice to press freedom activists like her by heeding their struggle and their message," the organisation said.

Reporters Without Borders said there was no justification for the use of violence or threats against Abdi, who honoured her country by defending not only press freedom in a climate of anarchy, but also women and children whose situation is often precarious in Somalia.

The organisation learned from sources in Mogadishu that two men and a woman armed with AK-47s and a pistol forced Abdi into a car near the Bakaraa market at about 5 p.m. yesterday, blindfolded her and took her somewhere in Mogadishu. At one point she was able to briefly speak to her husband by telephone and explain what had happened. She was freed at around 8 a.m. today.

The exact motives for the kidnapping are not known. "I think I was abducted on account of my activities in defence of children, because my kidnappers told me stop talking about children’s rights," she told the Somali Journalist Network (Sojon), a local press freedom group.

In addition to being member of the Sowja, Abdi is also the deputy head of a Somali women’s group called COGWA, and the local representative of the African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), based in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Married and the mother of girl, she has both Somali and Kenyan nationality.

The kidnapping of civilians is common in Somalia, where militiamen are ready to execute abduction "contracts" for 200 US dollars.

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