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Bandits kidnap Catholic nuns in Kenya

  • Story Highlights
  • Suspected Somalian bandits kidnap two Catholic nuns in northern Kenya
  • Abduction happened at Catholic mission in Kenyan town of El Wak
  • Area wracked by clashes among various clans
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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Italy's foreign minister is working with Kenyan authorities to secure the release of two Italian nuns, who were kidnapped Monday by suspected Somalian bandits, according to the foreign ministry in Rome.

A Kenya Red Cross spokesman said the two Catholic nuns were abducted from the Catholic mission in the northern Kenyan town of El Wak, just over two kilometers (one mile) from the border with Somalia.

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has ordered the ministry's crisis unit to work with the Italian Embassy in Nairobi "to activate every possible form of collaboration with the local authorities," according to a ministry statement.

Kenyan police are trying to track down the suspected kidnappers, who also stole three vehicles from the district commissioner's office, Red Cross spokesman Titus Mung'ou said.

The area has been wracked by clashes among various clans, in which as many as 20 Kenyans have been killed. The violence has hampered the Kenya Red Cross' efforts to assist people affected by drought, flood and those displaced by conflict.

"We have had to scale back our efforts," Mung'ou said.

CNN's David McKenzie in Nairobi contributed to this report

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