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Somali clan frees two hostages

Published Mar 30, 2001

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Mogadishu - Two of four UN hostages held by Somali gunmen loyal to clan leader Musa Sudi Yalahow were freed here on Friday, faction officials said.

The two. Belgian Pierre-Paul Lamotte and Algerian Frenchman Mohamed Mohamedi, were released in Mogadishu 10.30am (0730 GMT), Yalahow's acting faction leader Omar Muhamud Mohamed "Finish" told AFP.

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"The hostages are free to leave Mogadishu unconditionally. They are freed by our faction and we are not going to hand them over to the so-called Somali Transitional Government (STG)," he said.

The hostages, who were ambushed on Tuesday in the north of the capital as they visited a compound run by charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors without Borders) were transported to south-west Mogadishu's Medina district.

The Medina area, under the control of Yalahow's faction, has its own airport known as Gezira.

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"The hostages were treated in a humane way by the captors after our faction intervened on the matter," Finish said, adding that Yalahow had ordered the unconditional release of the hostages.

Yalahow is one of a group of Somali warlords opposed to the STG, which was set up last year in a bid to restore central authority to a country carved up among rival factions since the January 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

He was attending a meeting of faction leaders in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa when UN expatriate staff and other aid workers were captured amid a shootout in Mogadishu.

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Several Somalis were killed in the fighting. - Sapa-AFP

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