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August 27, 2009

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Frenchman escapes captorsin Somalia

ONE of a pair of French security agents kidnapped by insurgents in Somalia last month had escaped, Somali officials said yesterday.

A military officer said the man is believed to have killed three of his captors.

The agent is safe in the presidential palace and "in a good mood," said Abdulkadir Hussein Wehliye, the assistant information secretary of the presidential palace.

Farhan Asanyo, a government military officer, said the man unexpectedly came up to government soldiers early yesterday, identified himself and said he had escaped.

"The man told them that he was one of the French officials held by militants," Asanyo said.

"He said he escaped after killing three of his captors, and we sent him to the presidential palace."

The fate of the other captive was not immediately clear.

The Frenchmen were abducted in July from a hotel in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

They were in the country to train Somali government forces, which are fighting Islamist militiamen.

Militants had said the two would be tried under Islamic law for alleged spying and conspiracy against Islam.

Foreigners rarely travel to Somalia, which is among the most dangerous countries in the world.

The country has not had a functioning government for 18 years amid endless fighting among clan warlords.

Kidnappings for ransom have been on the rise in recent years, with journalists and aid workers often targeted.

The lawlessness also has allowed piracy to flourish off the coast, making the waterway one of the most dangerous in the world.

Many fear the power vacuum in Somalia will provide a haven for terrorists.


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