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Aid worker freed in Somalia

A British aid worker kidnapped by masked gunmen in Somalia today said how happy he was at being released.

Frans Barnard, who was working for Save the Children, said it was ‘marvellous’ to be free.

He was abducted at gunpoint on Thursday night from a guesthouse compound in Adado, a small town near the border with Ethiopia.

Somali Bashir Yusuf Osman, who was also taken from the compound with him, was released unharmed hours later.

The men were working with the charity, researching the possibility of setting up a programme in the area to help sick and malnourished children and their families in the area.

Today, six days after their ordeal started, Mr Barnard is said to be on his way to a safe place.

We can confirm that he has been released by his kidnappers and he is now in the hands of clan elders in Somalia,” said Anna Ford, the charity's spokeswoman.

"It was those clan elders who organised his release and he is currently on his way to a place of safety,” she told Press Association news service today.

"We are just hugely, hugely grateful to the clan elders for everything that they have done. It speaks volumes about Somalian society that they were able to organise and resolve this issue despite all the difficulties. We would like to thank everybody who has helped us."

Working for Mr Barnard's release had been a “point of honour" for the elders, she explained. "They invited us into their community to do the work that we are doing and they saw Frans as their guest and they did everything possible to get him to safety. It was a point of honour for them to do that. He is now being protected by the local administration and clan elders."

Save the Children has previously confirmed that he was being looked after and was in good spirits.
Kidnapping for ransom is not unusual in the lawless Horn of Africa country, though hostages are usually released unharmed. Somalia has been dogged by famine and years of fighting between rival warlords leading to thousands of deaths. It has had no working central government for nearly 20 years. Most aid agencies have pulled out of the region.

Save the Children has been working to improve access to food, basic healthcare and education in the country for longer than 40 years. It is mostly based in the central Hiran region, Karkaar in the north-east and in the Togdheer region of Somaliland.

Hayley attribution