- Unidentified Somali bandits have allegedly kidnapped two Italian nuns in northern Kenya in a pre dawn border raid, local government officials said.
Armed men are reported to have attacked town of Elwak in the country's northern Mandera district early on Monday and also stole vehicles. "The nuns were abducted from their residence in the town," officials said.
North-eastern Kenya is inhabited by ethnic Somalis, and is marred by frequent clashes over access to land and water in the area.
In Somalia, armed gangs have kidnapped and killed a number of aid workers, while there have also been repeated attacks on Catholic missions.
Armed Somali gangs have carried out scores of kidnappings in recent months, often targeting either foreigners or Somalis working with international organisations to demand ransoms.
According to a news release from Action Contre la Faim, Somali gunmen are holding four foreign aid workers from French aid group and their two pilots who were abducted last week.
The administration of the region of Gedo in southwestern Somalia is reported to be investigating the incident, said Sheikh Hassan Hussein, governor of Gedo. The whereabouts of the two nuns isn't known, he said.
"We have information that the kidnappers used vehicles to take these two Western Catholic nuns into Somali territory," he said, adding he didn't have any further information.
Somalia is gripped by violence as Islamist rebels fight government and its Ethiopian backers. The country hasn't had a functioning central administration since ousting of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.
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