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Aid workers kidnapped, driver killed in Kenya

By AFP

NAIROBI (AFP) - Gunmen killed at least one person and kidnapped several aid workers in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border with war-torn Somalia, security sources and the Red Cross said Friday.

"A vehicle carrying aid workers was carjacked," Kenyan army spokesman Cyrus Oguna told AFP.

Police sources said that several aid workers were seized and a driver was killed in Dadaab's Ifo 2 camp. Kenya's Red Cross confirmed the kidnapping and the death of one person.

Local sources on the ground suggested up to four people had been kidnapped, but it was not possible to immediately verify the reports. There were also differing reports of the nationalities of those involved.

"They were in a Land Cruiser when they were attacked, the vehicle has been taken away with them," a police source said, who was not authorised to speak to the media.

"A team is pursuing them, but we do not know if they have crossed to the other side," the source added, referring to neighbouring Somalia some 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.

The attack happened close to the compound of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), but staff at the aid agency's headquarters in Oslo said they could neither deny nor confirm the reports, as they were trying to get information themselves.

In October, gunmen seized two Spaniards working for Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut. They are still being held hostage in Somalia.

The kidnapping of the Spaniards was one of the incidents that spurred Kenya to send troops and tanks into Somalia to fight the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents Nairobi blames for abductions as well as for cross-border raids.

The Dadaab refugee camp complex is the world's largest camp with more than 465,000 inhabitants at the end of May, constituting Kenya's third-biggest town.

The Shebab still control large parts of southern Somalia, despite recent losses to African Union troops, government forces and Ethiopian soldiers, who have wrested several key bases from the insurgents.

Kenya, which invaded southern Somalia in October before joining the AU force, has a heavy troop presence in depth along the border.