- The kidnappers of two foreign journalists in Somalia are demanding US $ 2.5 million for their release, local media has reported.
The journalists, an Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan and a Canadian Amanda Lindhout, along with a local photographer, were kidnapped by unknown gunmen on southern outskirts of Mogadishu, the capital, late last month.
Negotiator Dahir Farah said kidnappers demanded US $2.5 million and said they were still busy with negotiations to secure their release.
News of ransom demand was welcomed back in Calgary by Lindhout's friend Jeremy Kroeker, who said he is encouraged by the development. "It is good news," he said Sunday. "It means they see her as a commodity. They're not trying to make a political statement."
He said the fact that abductors want money also means they will take good care of Ms Lindhout. "The fact that there's dialogue is also very encouraging. That means someone out there knows who has her," said Mr Kroeker.
Local Shebelle radio said it had spoken to one of the abductors, who said there was good communication between captors and Australian and Canadian governments about the release of their nationals.
The man, calling himself Ahmed Ali, said in the radio interview that the foreigners were "in good health" and they were able to speak with their relatives by phone.
Meanwhile, another person claiming to be an intermediary for the kidnappers, contacted Agence France-Presse and spoke of the same ransom demand.
He also allowed two people claiming to be the foreign journalists to speak briefly.
"I'm Amanda, the Canadian journalist. Our health situation is very well for the time being," Lindhout purportedly said.
The captors also refused to say their motives for holding the hostages who have been in captivity in an unknown location in Somalia for nearly two weeks.
This is the first time the captors have publicly spoken about the abducted journalists who are believed to be held in Mogadishu.
Local insurgent groups have distanced themselves from kidnapping of the foreign journalists and condemned it.
The horn of Africa country has not had a functioning government since 1991, making rule of law one of the remotest in the peace making efforts of the country.
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