Four journalists kidnapped in Puntland

New York, November 26, 2008–The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the safety of four journalists who were reported kidnapped today in the port city of Bossasso in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

Two international and two Somali journalists were seized by unknown assailants around mid-day, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists and the Puntland Journalist Club. Their names are being withheld for safety concerns. 

“We are alarmed by reports of the abduction of our four colleagues,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “This underscores what an incredibly dangerous place Somalia has become for both local and foreign journalists. We urge the authorities in Bossasso to do all in their power to ensure the safe return of all four journalists.”

The four were abducted after they left their hotel, but their driver was not taken, Puntland Journalist Club Chairman Abdiqani Hassan told CPJ. The kidnappers had not made contact with anyone as of late Wednesday, said Abdul Aziz Gamey, the Puntland police commander.

The international reporters were in the region for a week to report stories on piracy. The local journalists were assisting them as fixer and interpreter, local reporters told CPJ. The two foreign journalists were expected to depart Puntland today for a flight to Djibouti, Agence France-Presse reported.

Freelance journalists Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan, who were kidnapped in August outside the capital, Mogadishu, are still being held captive. French journalist Gwen LeGouil was held hostage for eight days just outside Bossasso last December. He was freed unharmed.

The original version of this alert was modified to remove the names of the journalists who were reported kidnapped. The names were removed due to safety concerns.