Somali rebels move Spanish hostages to Kismayu–army

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Somali militants loyal to al Qaeda moved two Spanish hostages to the rebel stronghold of Kismayu in the face of an advance by Kenyan-backed government troops from over the border, a senior Somali army officer said.

“Al Shabaab is holding them in Kismayu,” General Yusuf Hussein Dunmaal, who commands Somalia’s southern forces, told Reuters by telephone.

But Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the organisation for which the hostages Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra work, said on Tuesday it did not know the location of the two women, Reuters reports.

The militants shifted the two aid workers, who were kidnapped last week from a refugee camp in Kenya, to the southern port city from the village of Taabto to the north on Monday, as Kenyan and Somali forces advanced through the area, the general said.
“These type of incidents are extremely complex and must be handled with the utmost caution and dicretion,” Jose Antonio Bastos, the head of MSF in Spain, told a news conference in Barcelona, according to a statement late Tuesday.

Bastos also ruled out any plans for an armed rescue attempt.
“The organisation is very worried because any use of force could put the security of our colleagues and their quick release at risk,” he said.