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Somalia16 December 2007

Shock and alarm after French journalist kidnapped

Reporters Without Borders today voiced deep anxiety after French cameraman Gwen Le Gouil (photo AFP) was kidnapped 70 kilometres east of Bosasso, economic capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region in the north east of Somalia.

The worldwide press freedom organisation called on the local authorities to do their utmost to ensure that the journalist was quickly released.

The journalist, who was working on a report into the activites of people-smugglers, was reportedly abducted late morning in the Shimbrah area by traffickers of labour, who demanded a ransom of 70,000 US dollars. The Puntland authorities were believed to be negotiating with his captors.

“This kidnapping is all the more alarming since it happened in a lawless country in which eight journalists have been killed since the start of the year, making it the world’s most dangerous area for journalists after Iraq” the organisation said.

“Even though Puntland has been relatively peaceful for several years, it is no longer the case since the upsurge of war between the Islamic Courts and Ethiopian troops, supporting Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG)” it added.

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