A security guard employed by the International Committee of the Red Cross was involved in the kidnapping of a German nurse working for the organization in Mogadishu, the Somali government said Thursday.
The nurse, identified as Sonja Nientiet, was abducted from the ICRC compound at around 8.00 pm local time (1700 GMT) on Wednesday evening when unidentified armed men entered its premises.
Security ministry spokesman Abdiaziz Ali Ibrahim said one of the Red Cross security guards was involved after local staff reported the gunmen had easily managed to sneak Nientiet out through a back entrance into a waiting vehicle.
“She was kidnapped by a member of ICRC’s own security guards in Mogadishu, the kidnapper’s name is Mohamud Mohamed Alas,” he said.
“We particularly request the family of the kidnapper to work with the security agencies and inform them of the whereabouts of their son.”
He said security forces had found an abandoned vehicle belonging to the kidnappers, and witnesses said the car had been abandoned with a punctured tire.
It was unclear whether the kidnappers had managed to leave Mogadishu with their hostage.
Nientiet’s LinkedIn profile says she has worked for the organization since 2014, with postings in Jordan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria.
The abduction is the second attack on ICRC employees in Somalia in just over a week.
Abdulhafid Yusuf Ibrahim, a Somali national who had worked for the group for only five months, died on March 25 after an improvised bomb exploded beneath his car as he left the ICRC office.
Unlike many other international aid agencies working in Somalia, the ICRC does not base itself within the well-defended perimeter of Mogadishu’s airport, which is protected by African Union soldiers.
The airport acts as the city’s “Green Zone” housing foreign embassies and the United Nations which coordinates the humanitarian and political responses to Somalia’s crises.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is visiting Ethiopia and Tanzania this week, told journalists in Addis Ababa he would not comment “on any hostage cases”.
“I have deep respect for all people, especially people from Germany, working abroad in order to help others,” Maas added.
Somalia, which collapsed into civil war in 1991 and has been wracked by an Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist insurgency since 2006. It is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for aid workers but abductions remain relatively unusual.