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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 18:23 GMT
Aid worker kidnapped in Somalia
Weapons on sale at a Mogadishu market
No shortage of weapons for sale on Mogadishu markets
Somali gunmen have kidnapped a United Nations official in the south of the capital, Mogadishu.

The Somali man, who had been working for the UN Childrens' Fund (Unicef), has not been named.

However, one of his colleagues said he was seized by six men in a vehicle.

The identity of the kidnappers is still unclear.

The incident comes a day after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said it was too dangerous for the UN to open an office in Somalia at the moment.

Aid workers targeted

It is thought to be the first time a UN staff member has been kidnapped in Somalia for about a year.
Armed men
Armed warlords and bandits threaten stability

One report suggested the motive for the kidnapping was a car rental contract that had been cancelled by Unicef.

But there has been no official word from Unicef.

Since Somalia descended into clan warfare following the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, aid workers have been the targets of gunmen in Somalia who kidnap, rob or kill them.

No end to fighting

Last week, a 70 year old Swiss woman, Verena Karer, who worked for a humanitarian agency, was killed at her home in the southern town of Merca.

In a report published on Wednesday, Kofi Annan said Somalia remained one of the most dangerous environments in which the UN operates, and that the security situation did not allow for a long-term presence.
President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
The interim government controls only some parts of Mogadishu

The report was based on the findings of a security mission which went to Somalia in January, about 18 months after the fledgling interim government was set up.

More than a dozen people were killed in Mogadishu in fighting between rival factions in the Medina area on Monday and Tuesday.

See also:

26 Jan 02 | Africa
Somalia fighting 'leaves 50 dead'
24 Jan 02 | Africa
Arms banned on Mogadishu streets
13 Nov 01 | Africa
Somalis stranded in Ethiopia
11 Dec 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Somalis feel US squeeze
29 Dec 01 | Africa
Nine die in Mogadishu clash
08 Nov 01 | Africa
Somali company 'not terrorist'
27 Dec 01 | Africa
Heavy fighting erupts in Somalia
28 Dec 01 | Africa
Calm returns to Mogadishu
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