Police said a French journalist abducted by Somali gunmen was released Today, eight days after he was seized in the northern part of the country.

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Franch Journalist

 Halkaan ka akhr

Police said a French journalist abducted by Somali gunmen was released Monday, eight days after he was seized in the northern part of the country.

“A kidnapped journalist was released this afternoon. He is now in Bossaso and is feeling well. No ransom was paid,” Abdiaziz Said Mohamoud, Puntland police commissioner, told The Associated Press by phone.

Cameraman Gwen Le Gouil was seized Dec. 16 outside the town of Bossaso in Puntland, an area associated with coastal piracy and known as a staging post for human traffickers running boats into Yemen.

Elders from Somalia’s influential clans had intervened to try to win his release.

The area where Le Gouil was kidnapped is about 930 miles north of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, which is at the center of an Islamic insurgency that has killed thousands of people this year.

The United Nations says Somalia is facing Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On Monday, 100 Burundian peacekeepers arrived in Mogadishu, following the first deployment of 100 a day earlier to bolster 1,800 Ugandan troops already in place. The African Union has said it wants to deploy 8,000 peacekeepers in Somalia, but countries have been slow to come forward with troop contributions.

Ethiopia, with tacit U.S. approval, sent soldiers to Somalia last year to wipe out an Islamic group that had seized control of the capital and much of the southern part of the country, but members of the Islamic group soon launched an insurgency with the support of Ethiopia’s archenemy, Eritrea.

The arid Horn of Africa nation has had no functioning national government since 1991, when clan leaders overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

The conflict between the U.N.-backed transitional government — which is seen by many Somalis as corrupt and ineffective — and the Islamic radicals is complicated by a web of clan loyalties.

SOURCE: AP, December 24, 2007

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