Three aid workers — an American, a Dane and a Somali — who were helping remove land mines in northern Somalia have been kidnapped by gunmen who attacked their convoy while en route to the airport, the Associated Press reports.
A self-proclaimed Somali pirate said that pirates had captured the three workers and that they would not be harmed, but that the pirates wanted a ransom for their release.
The kidnapping comes on the heels of two brutal attacks on people in resorts in neighboring Kenya. CNN reports that while “Somalia's pirates have long made the country's coastline a no-go area for sailors, [the] two brutal attacks on resorts... have sparked fears the militants may have dramatically altered their tactics.”
In the first of the resort attacks, on Sept. 11, armed bandits broke into a beachfront cottage on Kenya’s coast where Britons Judith and David Tebbutt were staying. David Tebbutt was shot dead, and his wife believed taken to Somalia.
On Oct. 1, in the second attack, pirates kidnapped a French woman in her 60s from a holiday home on Kenya’s coast. She is also believed to be in Somalia.
With fears of new tactics have also come an increase in attacks by Somali pirates, which reached a record 352 incidents globally this year.
And, as Business Week reports , navies have responded to the increased attacks by increasing their patrols and securities. Of the 199 attacks by Somali pirates this year, only 12 percent resulted in hijackings in the first nine months, down from 28 percent a year earlier. The number of private armed guards also is expected to rise by some 30 percent next year.
“Somali pirates are finding it harder to hijack ships and get the ransom they ask for,” International Maritime Bureau director Pottengal Mukundan told Business Week.
No word yet on whether countries will pay ransom for the three kidnapped aid workers.