Somalia: IRIN News Briefs, 5/11/99

Somalia: IRIN News Briefs, 5/11/99

SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs, 11 May

Kidnapped aid worker released

The Italian aid worker, Stefano Sotgia, kidnapped last month by Somali militiamen was on Monday afternoon reported to be well as he celebrated his release with colleagues from the Terra Nuova NGO at its headquarters in Nairobi. The NGO's regional representative Vittorio Cognolati told IRIN that Sotgia had been "basically treated well", though tensions and arguments amid different factions among his kidnappers had given him cause for concern once in a while.

Cognolati said Sotgia's release had been achieved "through elders and others being able to put enough pressure on the kidnappers". The kidnapped veterinarian, who had been working on a rinderpest vaccination programme in Lower Juba region, was set free in Asmdow on Sunday. Cognolati was unable to say on Monday whether Terra Nuova would be resuming its operations in the region, which were suspended following the abduction.

Resumption of relief work to be reviewed

The Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB), comprising donors, UN agencies and international NGOs, which recommended the suspension of aid activities in Lower Juba after Sotgia's abduction, on Tuesday welcomed his release and reiterated its call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. It made no recommendation on the resumption of relief efforts in the region but a spokeswoman told IRIN that the situation will be addressed in an executive meeting of the SACB on Thursday 20 May.

ACF worker freed

Meanwhile, Eric Courly, a hydraulic engineer with Action Contre la Faim (ACF), who had been kidnapped by ethnic Somali gunmen of the Ogaden National Liberation front (ONLF) in Ethiopia on 4 April, was released on Monday afternoon, a press release from ACF stated. It made no mention of where he was set free. The French aid worker had been "convicted" of helping Ethiopian forces by his ONLF kidnappers but was later "pardoned". An ONLF representative in Mogadishu told the DPA news agency that his organisation had contacted the ICRC in Addis Ababa and turned Courly over to a Red Cross delegation.

Weekend clashes in Merka over arms shipment

Fighting broke out between rival factions of the Habar Gidir clan in the southern port of Merka over the weekend for control of the heavy weaponry, allegedly sent by Eritrea, which was brought into the port last Tuesday. Witnesses quoted by AP news agency on Monday said the fighting broke out on Saturday night and Sunday morning between militiamen loyal to faction leader Hussein Aideed and a group led by the governor of Merka, Mahdi Mohamed Jumale, because Aideed would not share the weapons.

There has no subsequent news of a force of 500 to 700 Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) fighters or Eritrean army officers and officials reported to have landed when the ship docked. Eritrea has denied that it shipped either arms or troops to the Somali port.

Militia leader calls for foreign military intervention

Somali faction leader Osman Hassan Ali 'Atto' on Sunday called for foreign military intervention in order to disarm militias, facilitate a peace process and save the country from additional bloodshed, AFP reported. Claiming that Eritrea had sent weapons to Somalia and was training hundreds of rebel Ethiopian OLF fighters in order to destabilise the government in Addis Ababa, 'Atto' called for foreign intervention to save Somalia "from more bloodshed as a result of involvement in the military affairs of warring Ethiopia and Eritrea".


Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 14:06:01 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs [19990511]

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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