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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 January 2008, 15:05 GMT
Two MSF workers freed in Somalia
Argentine nurse Pilar Bauza with a child in Somalia (archive image)
The two staff were seized on their way to a hospital
Kidnappers in the north Somali region of Puntland have freed two aid workers from the Spanish branch of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Spanish doctor Mercedes Garcia and Argentine nurse Pilar Bauza are now in a hotel in the port town of Bosasso, the Somali trade minister said.

The two women were abducted last Wednesday near Bosasso.

Puntland has generally been more stable than the south since Somalia's last effective government fell in 1991.

It was unclear if any ransom had been paid to secure the hostages' release.

Somalia Trade Minister Abdisamad Yusuf Abwan merely confirmed that the two women had been released.

The Spanish ambassador to Kenya, Nicolas Martin Cinto, said Spain was happy that the two had been freed.

Evacuation

MSF evacuated its foreign staff from southern and central Somalia on Tuesday, saying it could not keep them there while two of their colleagues were in captivity.

BBC map

Addi Muse, president of Puntland, which is a semi-autonomous region, was quoted by Reuters news agency on Sunday as saying the kidnappers had asked for a ransom.

A French journalist abducted by gunmen in Puntland on 16 December was freed on 24 December.

Gwen Le Gouil had been kidnapped within 24 hours of his arrival in Bosasso to research a story on human trafficking.

He was freed in good health and no ransom was paid for his release, police said.



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