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French journalist freed in Somalia

  • Story Highlights
  • Kidnappers hands over journalist Monday to two elders, journalist group says
  • Le Gouil was kidnapped just outside port town of Bossasso, CPJ says
  • Puntland's president criticized Le Gouil for traveling without government consent
  • The kidnappers had demanded $80,000 for his release
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(CNN) -- A French reporter kidnapped eight days ago in Somalia was released Monday, a journalists' group in the country said.

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Kidnappers with AK-47 machine guns guard French journalist Gwen Le Gouil, taken hostage last week.

A tribal clan kidnapped cameraman Gwen Le Gouil on December 16 in the east African country's Puntland region where he was producing a television documentary about human trafficking in Somalia.

The kidnappers handed over the journalist Monday to two elders who were part of their clan, said the National Union of Somali Journalists in a statement. The men later delivered Le Gouil to Puntland officials.

"It's been eight days of nightmare for the journalist, his family and his colleagues, but our efforts were always to liberate him immediately and without ransom," the Somali journalists' group -- based in the neighboring country of Djibouti -- said in the statement.

"Puntland must not be a place that journalists cannot come because they fear to be kidnapped. We can now have a rest and our colleague can rejoin his family," the statement added.

Le Gouil's captors had demanded $80,000 for his release. It was not immediately known whether a ransom had been paid.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said Le Gouil was kidnapped just outside the port town of Bossasso, an area described as an emerging "hub for illegal immigration out of war-torn Somalia."

The group lists Somalia as the second-deadliest country for reporters in 2007, with seven journalist deaths. Iraq ranks at the top.

Puntland's president had criticized Le Gouil for having traveled without government consent in the area to work on the documentary about the mass smuggling of refugees from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, a perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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