Aid group names American, Dane kidnapped in Somalia

Story highlights

  • The U.S. says it is working with Somali and Kenyan contacts to find out more
  • An American citizen abducted in Somalia is named as Jessica Buchanan
  • Also kidnapped is 60-year-old Danish man Poul Hagen Thisted
  • The pair were working for the demining unit of a Danish aid group
Two foreign aid workers kidnapped two days ago in Somalia were named Thursday as American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted.
Buchanan, 32, and Thisted, 60, were abducted by gunmen Tuesday after visiting humanitarian projects in the northern Galkayo area, the Danish Refugee Council said.
"The Danish Refugee Council is in close contact with the aid workers' relatives, who are deeply concerned and affected by the situation," it said in a statement.
The pair were working for the council's demining unit, which aims to make civilians safe from landmines and unexploded ordnance.
The council said Wednesday that a Somali employee who was initially believed abducted with them was in the custody of the local police, who were investigating his role in the incident.
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The aid organization said its activities in the Galkayo area have been temporarily suspended but continue elsewhere in the East African country.
The council says it currently helps up to 450,000 people affected by drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa and has been involved in humanitarian efforts there for over a decade.
The U.S. State Department confirmed a U.S. citizen had been kidnapped in northern Somalia but declined to give more details, citing privacy laws.
"We remain concerned about the individual's safety and well-being," a statement said. "We are working with contacts in Kenya and Somalia to ascertain further information and have been in contact with the individual's family to provide all appropriate consular assistance."
A number of 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.