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Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 16:44 UK

Aid workers 'released in Somalia'

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Four European aid workers and two Kenyan pilots kidnapped nine months ago in Somalia have been released, French aid group Action Against Hunger says.

The group was taken captive from an airstrip in the central town of Dhusa-Mareb last November.

"Apparently all are in good health, they'll have medical check-ups," Action Against Hunger said in a statement.

Somalia is nominally ruled by a UN-backed government but Islamist insurgents control large areas.

Those freed include two French women, one Bulgarian woman and a Belgian man.

Action Against Hunger said the Kenyan pilots worked for the carrier Air Traffic.

Somalia's National Security Minister Abdullahi Mohamed Ali said they were released after the intervention of "government officials, businessmen, clan elders and religious leaders".

"As far as we know, no ransom was paid," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Aid workers are being increasingly targeted in Somalia and many non-governmental organisations have reduced their operations in the country which has been without an effective central government since 1991.

It is estimated that about a third of Somalia's population is dependent on food aid.



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