Catholic leaders, security forces negotiating with Somali insurgents for release.
NAIROBI, Kenya, November 12 (Compass Direct News) – Negotiations continued today for the release of two nuns abducted by insurgent Somali militia at midnight on Sunday (Nov. 9) from Kenya’s northern Mandera district near the Somali border.
Pastor Alois Maina of Community Church in Mandera told Compass that the two nuns were being held in El-Haddah, Somalia, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the border. Kenya Broadcasting Corp. reported that it had confirmed the nuns were being held in Somalia.
A Catholic priest in Mandera who requested anonymity told Compass that Catholic leaders in Mandera were collaborating with village elders in both Kenya and Somalia to negotiate with the militia for the nuns’ release.
“What we need at the moment is prayer,” said the priest.
The nuns were captured in Elwak in a midnight attack by about 20 armed Somali men suspected to be members of Islamic insurgent group al Shabaab – said to have links with al Qaeda – and taken away using three vehicles, two of them belonging to the government and the other belonging to a school.
Members of the Little Sisters of Jesus order, the nuns were identified as Caterina Giruado, 67, and Maria Teresa Oliviero, 61, both from Italy.
Catholic leaders in Mandera were involved in ongoing negotiations for the nuns’ release, sources said.
Police have reportedly arrested one suspect in the kidnapping.
Armed Somali gangs have carried out scores of kidnappings in recent months, targeting either foreigners or Somalis working with international organizations, to demand ransom.
Aid groups report at least 24 aid workers, 20 of them Somalis, have been killed this year in Somalia, with more than 100 attacks against aid agencies.
“Tension is reported to be high in the area following the attack,” said Pastor Maina. “The residents have started to move out of Elwak town in fear of militia attack or a security operation.”
Report from Compass Direct News