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Kidnappers release French cameraman

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - NUSOJ welcomes the release of French journalist Gwen Le Gouil who was kidnapped on 16 December 2007 by gunmen in Port town of Bossasso, the capital of Bari region in north-eastern Somalia.

The kidnappers handed the journalist over on the evening of 24 December to two traditional elders - Abdulkadir Ahmed Ibrahim and Mohammed Said Shabel - who belong to same clan as the kidnappers. The elders, in turn, later turned Le Gouil over to Puntland Ministers Ahmed Said Ow-Nur and Abdisamad Yusuf Abwan.

Le Gouil, a cameraman freelancing with ARTE Television, a French and German television station based in Strasbourg, arrived in Bossasso on 15 December. He was then kidnapped by five armed men, who ordered his driver and translator to flee. Initially, Le Gouil was first held in a place called Marero, located east of Bossasso, but he was later transferred to the mountains further east.

"We are very pleased to see Mr. Gwen Le Gouil freed, but we appeal to the Puntland authorities to protect and guarantee the safety of all journalists" said Abdirisak Omar Ismail, chairperson of NUSOJ's Supreme Council. "We are glad that his suffering is over, after all our efforts to secure his release"

NUSOJ mobilised Puntland journalists and elders of the kidnappers' clan to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the French cameraman. "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. 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."

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