Aid workers abducted from Kenyan refugee complex

The Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya is home to tens of thousands of people, many of whom fled conflict in neighboring Somalia.

Story highlights

  • Two other staff members are injured
  • The aid workers are with the Norwegian Refugee Council
  • The abductors get away with a refugee council vehicle
  • Kenya has blamed previous abductions on the militant Al-Shabaab group

Five aid workers -- four Europeans and a Kenyan -- were kidnapped from Kenya's vast Dadaab refugee complex near the Somali border, police said Friday.

Their Kenyan driver was killed, said Philip Ndolo of the Kenyan police. Two other members of staff were injured and are undergoing treatment at a hospital in the capital of Nairobi, officials said.

The abductors got away with a vehicle of the Norwegian Refugee Council, a global humanitarian agency. The vehicle's tracking device indicated that it was still within Kenyan territory.

The aid group said the governments and relatives of the aid workers have been notified, but their nationalities will not be revealed.

"In our experience with these types of incidents, the less information we provide on the identity of those abducted, the better," said Rolf Vestvik, a spokesman for the aid agency. "We've also come to this conclusion after being advised by our own security team and after seeking outside security assistance."

The aid agency said only that a convoy "was involved in an incident" in Dadaab and that Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson and Country Director Hassan Khaire were at the camp but neither was in the convoy.

Police have launched a search in the area. They would not say whether the kidnappers were from Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group that is fighting to impose Islamic law in Somalia and controls large parts of the troubled nation.

The battle against al-Shabaab in Somalia
The battle against al-Shabaab in Somalia


    The battle against al-Shabaab in Somalia


The battle against al-Shabaab in Somalia 01:28

Kenya has blamed previous abductions of tourists and aid workers on Al-Shabaab.

In September, armed bandits broke into a beachfront cottage where Britons Judith and David Tebbutt, both in their 50s, were staying. David Tebbutt was shot dead while trying to resist the attack. His wife was grabbed and spirited away on a speedboat. She was released months later in Somalia after her family paid a ransom.

In October, pirates made another cross-border raid, this time snatching a French woman in her 60s, who used a wheelchair and was believed to be in bad health, from a holiday home on Manda Island, where she lived part of the year. She later died, likely because of the kidnappers' refusal to give her medicine, according to the French Foreign Ministry.

Also in October, gunmen abducted two Spanish workers with the medical charity Doctors Without Borders from Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, which houses nearly 500,000 people about 50 miles west of the Somali border.