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article imageAl-Shabab deny responsibility for kidnap of aid workers in Kenya

By Katerina Nikolas     Oct 14, 2011 in World
Al-Shabab, the Somali militant Islamic group with links to al-Qaeda, had denied responsibility for the kidnap of two female aid workers from Kenya on Thursday. However local police believe that the women have been taken across the border into Somalia.
Fears are growing over the fate of two Spanish female aid workers from Médecins Sans Frontières who were kidnapped on Thursday by armed men. The women were working at the massive Dadaab camp in Kenya that is filled with displaced refugees fleeing Somalia. They were snatched in the middle of the day from within the camp. Gunmen hijacked the vehicle the women were in, shooting the driver in the neck. The driver is hospitalized but survived the shooting.
Dadaab is only 60 miles from the border with Somalia and the BBC reports regional police chief Leo Nyongesa said that all the indications were there that the women had been taken into Somalia. The obvious suspects are believed to be members of al-Shabab, the extreme Islamist group that has links to al-Qaeda. A senior al-Sabab member denied that the group were responsible.
Emmanuel Nyabera, spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said that the kidnap may result in aid workers being withdrawn from the camp, stressing this would be a measure of last resort. The Telegraph reported that all non-essential aid missions have been cancelled.
The camp is the largest refugee camp in the world with nearly a half-million refugees from Somalia. However there is disquiet in Kenya that the presence of the camp is destabilizing the area. Recent kidnaps of a French woman and a British woman from Kenyan tourist destinations have severe financial implications for the Kenyan economy as once safe vacation spots have now been deemed too risky for holiday makers. Both of the earlier victims are being held in Somalia.
Kenyan politician Adan Keynan is reported by MSNBC as saying "I am deeply, deeply shocked and saddened. This is unacceptable. This is a barbaric action, and the people of responsible nations must unite and fight this menace. This is an organized criminal gang who are hell-bent on causing fear and mayhem among people of Kenya." Somalia’s al-Shabab is known to have close links with pirates operating out of Somalia. It is estimated that around half of the pirates proceeds are shared with al-Shabab.
More about Somalia, Kenya, Medecins sans frontieres, Alshabab, Unhcr
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