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Somalia reports arrests in French advisers' kidnap

world Updated: Jul 15, 2009 19:19 IST

AP
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Somali authorities have arrested suspects in the kidnapping of two French security advisers in the Somali capital, Somalia's defense minister told French radio on Wednesday.

Defense Minister Mohamed Abdi Ghandi said on RFI radio that troops also have gone to areas where the hostages might be. He said "contact" had been made with the kidnappers but gave no further details.

The French advisers were on a mission to train Somali government forces, which are fighting Islamist militiamen. They were abducted on Tuesday from a hotel in Mogadishu, one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

The hotel manager said the men had described themselves at check-in as French reporters _ drawing vigorous protest from media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which said that government agents using journalism as a cover could put real reporters in danger.

The French Foreign Ministry said it had no information to verify that the advisers had posed as journalists.

Ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said in an online briefing that the two were in Somalia at the invitation of Somali authorities, as part of France's bid to shore up the country's security forces. Earlier this year, France announced plans to train Somali security forces using troops stationed at a French military base in nearby Djibouti.

Desagneaux would not comment on any claims of responsibility for the kidnapping or details of the hostages' whereabouts, citing "the interests of our compatriots' security."