French journalist held in Somalia asks for help

A French journalist abducted by Somali gunmen wants international media watchdogs to press for his release, a Somali journalist related to the kidnappers said on Thursday.

The group that seized Gwen Le Gouil is demanding $80 000 for his release. It is holding him in the mountainous village of Mareero, 30km east of Putland’s Bosasso port.

”I saw him and he is fine. He told me that he was worried about his family,” Awale Jama Salad, a local journalist who belongs to the same clan as the kidnappers, told Reuters.

”He said his abductors were treating him humanely and he asked the international organisations that advocate for journalists to do something for his release.”

Somali kidnappers are known to treat their captives well, considering them assets on which they expect a return in the form of ransom.

Puntland’s Trade and Industries Minister Abdisamad Yusuf Abwan said French embassy delegations were in the country to negotiate for the release of Le Gouil, who was seized on Sunday.

”They [delegations] will be here as long as the negotiations are underway and we are hopeful the French journalist will be released without conditions very soon,” the minister said.

Another official said Le Gouil had entered the semi-autonomous Puntland region illegally.

”He arrived in Bosasso illegally. He did not contact the authorities but rather had made a direct deal with the gunmen,” said Yusuf Mumin Bidde, deputy governor of Bari province in Puntland, while addressing a gathering on Wednesday.

Many foreigners in Somalia run foul of local clans by failing to seek permission to travel through their territories. – Reuters

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