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Somali gunmen free kidnapped American UN worker

Written by: Staff

NAIROBI, Mar 3 (Reuters) Gunmen have freed an American working for the United Nations who was kidnapped by militiamen in southern Somalia, the world body said.

Robert McCarthy, 47, who works for the UN's children's agency (UNICEF), was released yesterday to the custody of UN security officers and members of Somalia's interim government.

He had been abducted the day before on the outskirts of Afmadow, 110 km northwest of the southern port of Kismayo.

''We are very relieved that Mr McCarthy has been released unharmed and thank the transitional federal government for demonstrating leadership in this critical time,'' UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said in a statement released late yesterday.

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

They are also often 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.

Reuters PR GC1148

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