3 aid workers kidnapped in Somalia, Danish group says

Story highlights

  • The three were kidnapped by gunmen but no shots were fired, a Danish aid group says
  • The American, Dane and Somali are trained for high-risk places, it says
  • Denmark's foreign minister says the situation is "very serious"
  • Somalia, in East Africa, is largely lawless
Three aid workers -- an American woman, a Danish man and a Somali man -- have been kidnapped in Somalia, the Danish Demining Group said Tuesday.
Investigations are under way to find out what has happened to the three staff members, the group, which is part of the Danish Refugee Council, said in an online statement.
"We are keeping close contact with the family members, who are deeply concerned, just as we are," said Ann Mary Olsen, head of the Danish Refugee Council's international department.
The three workers were kidnapped by gunmen after visiting humanitarian projects, the council said. No shots were fired during the kidnapping, it said.
"The staff members are highly experienced and trained to work in high-risk places, such as Somalia," Olsen added.
Denmark's foreign minister, Villy Sovndal, told CNN's Danish affiliate TV2 the situation is "very serious."
"Our Africa office here at the Foreign Ministry is collecting information on what has happened. We are following it minute by minute. We are doing everything we can," he said.
"We do not negotiate with kidnappers, but we offer all help and support that we can. But what this help will constitute we can't say until we get all the facts on what has happened."
Villads Zahle, head of press for the council, told CNN the three were working for the Danish Demining Group in northern Galkayo, considered part of Somalia's Puntland province, at the time of the abduction.
The group does "humanitarian demining," Zahle said, aimed at making civilians safe from landmines and unexploded ordnance.
The news that the workers were missing was confirmed by the council's office in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he added.
All Danish Refugee Group activities in the area have been temporarily suspended, the council's online statement said.
Several high-profile abductions of foreigners have occurred in recent weeks in Kenya, close to the border with largely lawless Somalia. Those kidnappings have been blamed on the Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab.