By Hussein Ali Noor
HARGEISA, Somalia (Reuters) – Authorities in the breakaway Somali republic of Somaliland arrested five gunmen in connection with this week’s kidnapping of a German aid worker, officials said on Thursday.
Daniel Bronkal, who works for German Agro Action (GAA), was seized in an ambush on his car and held for several hours before being freed on Tuesday evening after local troops fought off the gunmen who had abducted him.
“Somaliland troops captured five of the abductors who kidnapped the German man and we are still after two others who were involved in the abduction,” deputy chairman of Sanag region Abdiasis Hassan Said told Reuters by phone.
Somaliland’s interior minister said the kidnappers were from the neighbouring semi-autonomous region of Puntland — engaged in a long turf war with Somaliland over the Sanag region.
“I can tell you that the gunmen have come from Bosasso and I can not give any details now because the case is under investigation,” Abdulahi Ismail told Reuters.
Puntland brushed aside his claim that the abductors travelled from the its port city of Bosasso where several kidnappings occurred at the end of last year.
“The kidnappers were not from Puntland. Everyone knows they were from Buro and Era Gabo that are under Somaliland administration,” said Puntland presidential spokesman Bille Qabowsade.
Kidnapping of aid workers and foreigners is common in Somalia, but captives are usually treated well — since they are usually held for ransom. Authorities generally blame militant Islamists for attacks on foreigners.
“I was not treated badly, but you can imagine how difficult my situation could be,” Bronkal told reporters at the airport in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa.
Somaliland broke away in 1991 when warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, plunging the Horn of Africa country into anarchy, and has governed itself since.