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Eleven aid workers abducted in Somalia ambush

MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- Militiamen ambushed the compound of a French humanitarian group in the capital of Somalia Tuesday, taking captive seven U.N. staffers and four aid workers with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), the United Nations said.

The 11 aid workers were split into three groups and ferried to different parts of the city, the U.N. said.

In a separate incident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a U.N. staffer was killed after four uniformed men stopped him and demanded he give them his U.N. vehicle.

The news of the incidents came on the same day the United Nations marked its annual day of solidarity for staff who have been taken hostage while performing their duties.

"The U.N. family must do its part, but today I also call yet again on member states to do all they can to ensure a secure environment for U.N. staff as they go about their work in the service of humankind," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. In the incident in Somalia,as the U.N. staff drove to the Doctors Without Borders compound in north Mogadishu around 9 a.m., their convoy was ambushed by forces loyal to faction leader Musa Sudi Yalahow, the U.N said.

After about two hours of heavy fighting, the compound was overrun and the aid workers were taken away. An unknown number of Somali nationals were injured or killed.

The abducted Doctors Without Borders staff, along with two UNICEF personnel, were apparently unharmed, officials said. The Somali who owns the building where they were being held guaranteed safe passage when fighting in the area ceases and security permits.

The United Nations has established contact with Musa Sudi in an effort to secure the release of the captives. The United Nations also has urgently appealed to all parties to cease hostilities so those being held can be released as soon as possible.

"The U.N. is in touch with several parties and is hoping this matter can be resolved soon without harm to those seized," a U.N. spokeswoman told CNN.

The U.N. international staff taken include two U.N. security staff, four UNICEF personnel and one World Health Organization employee. Three are from Britain and one each is from Belgium, Algeria, the United States and Somalia.

The Doctors Without Borders personnel included two Spaniards, one French and one Somali.

In the Congo killing, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees said staffer Jose Djamba was shot and killed in Kimpese, near the Congo-Angola border.

Djamba was stopped by four armed, uniformed men who demanded his UNHCR vehicle and then shot him the back twice. The suspected attackers were last seen driving north toward Kinshasa, the U.N. said.

"We are shocked by the cold-blooded murder of yet another innocent humanitarian worker," High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said.

The United Nation annually marks March 27 as a show of solidarity to remember Alec Collett, a staff member of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, who was kidnapped in Lebanon in 1985. His fate has never been determined.

Referring to the Mogadishu incident, Annan said the occasion "is a day on which, sadly, colleagues of ours in Somalia are missing."

CNN Producer Ronni Berke contributed to this story.



RELATED STORIES:
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RELATED SITES:
U.N. Somalia
UNICEF
World Health Organization
Medecins Sans Frontieres
SomaliNet
CIA World Factbook: Somalia

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