By Mohammed Dhaysane
Four Save the Children staff members, including three Somali aid workers have been kidnapped in Somalia's central Hiran region by suspected al-Shabaab militants, a government official said on Friday.
The incident took place in Hujun village on the outskirts of Beledweyne, the capital of Hiran region, while the aid workers were traveling to Beledweyne aboard a pickup truck late Thursday.
Mohamed Ahmed Food-ade, Beledweyne’s district commissioner, confirmed the kidnapping to Anadolu Agency over the phone.
Food-ade said the gunmen involved in the kidnapping belonged to the al-Shabaab militant group.
“We can confirm that three Somali Save the children workers and their driver were abducted by al-Shabaab gunmen on Thursday evening and they were transported to Halgan district,” Food-ade said.
“One aid worker escaped; clan elders in the region are now working for the release of the rest of the aid workers from al-Shabaab,” he added.
A senior Save the Children aid worker also confirmed the incident to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
“The four aid workers are all Somali nationals,” he said.
Nour Hassaney, deputy chief of Beledwayne district police commissioner, also confirmed the incident.
In 2011, al-Shabaab kidnapped two Medecins Sans Frontieres aid workers before Kenyan defense forces working under the African Union mission in Somalia rescued them the same year.