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