[QODLink]
Africa
Somali fighters abduct foreigners
Armed men take hostage two French guests from a hotel in Mogadishu as fighting rages.
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2009 09:01 GMT
Mogadishu has seen near-daily battles between
armed groups and government forces [AFP]

Armed men have abducted two foreigners, said to be French nationals, from a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

The two were kidnapped from Sahafi hotel in the war-torn city on Tuesday, police and staff at the hotel confirmed.

Sources told Al Jazeera's correspondent that the men were security consultants. But several new agencies quoted the hotel's staff as saying that the abducted men were French journalists.

Mohamed Ali, a Somali police spokesman, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying: "Two foreigners have been kidnapped this morning by a large group of gunmen."

Abdi Mohamed Ahmed, who owns a tea shop in front of the Sahafi Hotel in Mogadishu, said about 10 armed men disarmed the hotel's guards Tuesday morning and kidnapped the foreigners.

The abductions follow a flare-up of violence around Mogadishu's presidential palace.

'Show of force'

Witnesses said fighters retreated from areas around the palace on Monday, after a day of fighting  in which dozens of people were killed and wounded about 150 others.

In depth


 Video: Somali fighters vow to fight on
 Profile: Sharif Ahmed
Timeline: Somalia
 Inside Story: What next for Somalia
 Riz Khan: Somalia - From bad to worse
Restoring Somalia
A long road to stability
Al-Shabab: Somali fighters undeterred
 Somalia at a crossroads
 Somaliland: Africa's isolated state

African Union (AU) peacekeepers directly intervened for the first time to support government forces.

But a spokesman for the AU force, whose remit allows them only to protect government buildings and defend themselves if attacked, told Al Jazeera that the troops actions were a "show of force" rather than combat engagement.

An Associated Press reporter saw several bodies and two AU tanks on the front line Sunday.

Government forces used rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back of lorries, which they fired horizontally through the streets.

Sporadic gunfire could still be heard late into the night following the fighters' retreat.

Various armed groups, some of them allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, have been fighting the UN-backed government since being chased from power over two years ago.

Mogadishu sees near-daily battles between government force and the fighters, with thousands of civilians killed in recent years.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
The group's takeover of farms in Qaraqosh, 30km from Mosul, has caused fear among residents, and a jump in food prices.
Protests and online activism in recent months have brought a resurgence of ethnic Oromo nationalism in Ethiopia.
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
join our mailing list