- The kidnapping of an investigative French journalist in the conflict-ridden Somalia has been damned by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).
Gwen Le Gouil was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in the port town of Bossasso, the capital of the North-Eastern regional capital of Bari on Sunday.
The freelance journalist works with a Strasbourg-based French and German Television, ARTE. He flew to Somalia to investigate the spate of human trafficking to Saudi Arabia through Yemen from Bossasso. His investigation was going to unravel the stories of ill-treatment and killing of fleeing immigrants by their smugglers.
His kidnappers, five armed men, who would not comment on the reasons of their act, ordered the French journalist's driver and translator to leave. They are demanding a ransom of US $70,000.
Gouil is reported to be held in Marero, seven kilometres East of Bossasso. Puntland authorities' attempts to release him failed yesterday after the kidnappers opened fire on the negotiators.
"We denounce this kidnapping of Gwen Le Gouil, and we demand his immediate and unconditional release", NUSOJ Secretary General, Omar Faruk Osman, said. "We appeal to Puntland authorities to obtain the peaceful release of the French cameraman and not to use any force that might put his life at risk."
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Africa office also reacted to the kidnapping.
“This abduction underscores the threats facing journalists in Somalia, which have reached an intolerable level,” IFJ Director of Africa office, Gabriel Baglo, said. “We are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of our colleague and urge authorities to ensure his release without any violence or bloodshed.”
The June 2006 shooting to death of a Swedish cameraman, Martin Adler, during a demonstration organised by the ousted Islamic Courts Union in the Somali capital Mogadishu was the last attack on a foreign journalist in Somalia.
The country has become the most risky zone for journalists in Africa, with eight journalists and media workers so far killed this year.
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