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American UN employee kidnapped in Somalia

Written by: Staff
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NAIROBI, Mar 2 (Reuters) Gunmen have abducted an American working for the United Nations in southern Somalia, UN officials said.

Robert McCarthy, employed by the UN Children's Fund, or UNICEF, was yesterday kidnapped on the outskirts of Afmadow, 110 km (70 miles) northwest of the southern port of Kismayo, according to Sandra Macharia, a UN spokeswoman in Somalia.

She declined to comment on the circumstances of McCarthy's abduction, whether the UN knew the identity of the kidnappers, or if there have been any demands.

UN officials in New York identified McCarthy as an American.

Kidnapping foreign workers has become a lucrative business for many militias and warlords in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

They are also used to settle business disputes.

Many aid organizations have chosen to work through local agencies or staff due to tremendous risks involved in delivering aid in the country of 10 million people.

The UN is working with the interim Somali government and local authorities to try to secure McCarthy's release, Macharia said.

REUTERS DH RAI0655

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