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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ransom demands for Australian's release

From correspondents in Mogadishu | September 08, 2008
The kidnappers of an Australian photographer and Canadian and Somali journalists in Somalia are demanding a $US2.5 million ($3.08 million) ransom, a traditional chief in contact with the abductors said today.

"The kidnappers demanded 2.5 million dollars and we are trying to secure their release,'' said Dahir Farah, who has been participating in negotiations to free the three abducted in Somalia last month.

Another person claiming to be an intermediary for the kidnappers spoke of the same ransom demand.

He also allowed two people claiming to be the foreign journalists to speak briefly to news wire services.

"I'm Amanda, the Canadian journalist. Our health situation is very well for the time being,'' Amanda Lindhout, a freelance foreign correspondent from the western Canadian province of Alberta, purportedly said.

A man claiming to be Nigel Geoffrey Brennan, an Australian photographer, said: "We are very well now mentally and physically.''

They were speaking from an undisclosed location.

"We need a ransom of 2.5 million dollars to free the hostages,'' the intermediary, Adan Nur Siad, said.

He said he had been in touch with representatives of the Australian police in Nairobi.

Mr Brennan and Ms Lindhout, as well as their Somali fixer, who is also a journalist, were abducted on August 23 on the road from the capital Mogadishu to Afgoye, where they intended to visit refugee camps.

Journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted in Somalia, a country torn apart by unrest since 1991.

Most kidnappings include ransom demands.