Spanish hostages freed from Somalia

19.07.2013 13:33

Two Spanish aid workers kidnapped in
Kenya nearly two years ago and held
over the border in Somali have been
freed, their employer has said.
Medecins Sans Frontieres said the two
women were both "safe and healthy and
keen to join their loved ones".
Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut
were abducted from Dadaab refugee
camp in October 2011.
Following their abduction and those of
other hostages, Kenya sent troops into
Somalia to battle Islamist militants.
In a statement, MSF said it was with great
relief that the organisation was able to
confirm the women's release.
"MSF wishes to thank everyone involved
in securing their safe release," it said,
without giving further details about how
they were freed.
"As we are still working on the return of
the two girls to their homes, we ask you
to respect their need for privacy at this
The women were kidnapped on 13
October 2011 by gunmen who opened
fire on their vehicle inside the Dadaab
refugee camp complex, shooting and
wounding their Kenyan driver.
Dadaab, said to be the world's largest
refugee camp, houses some 500,000
people who have fled years of conflict
and drought across the border in
Both women were working as logisticians
for MSF in Dadaab.
Ms Serra, a qualified teacher from Girona
in Spain, had been working in Kenya for
two months before she was kidnapped.
She had previously worked on aid
projects in Latin America and Yemen.
An agricultural engineer by training, Ms
Thiebaut from Madrid had not long
finished a degree at the London School
of Economics at the time of her
Kenya accused the al-Qaeda-aligned
group al-Shabab of being behind their
kidnapping and a spate of others in
2011, thus threatening the country's
It sent troops into Somalia to pursue
them and later seized most of the border
region from al-Shabab.
Its soldiers in Somalia have now been
absorbed into the African Union (AU)
force which is helping the weak Somali
Although the AU and Somali government
have driven al-Shabab from most major
cities, its fighters still control smaller
towns and rural areas in central and
southern Somalia and they sometimes
launch attacks in government-controlled