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2 Foreign Journalists Covering Somali Pirates Kidnapped

Two foreign journalists were kidnapped in northern Somalia on Wednesday while doing a story on the rampant piracy in the region, a police spokesman said.

The reporters had been in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, where many of the pirates operate from, for about a week, regional police spokesman Abshir Abdi Jama said.

"They were kidnapped, they are not missing," Jama said, citing intelligence reports. He did not elaborate.

The journalists' nationalities could not be confirmed, but Jama said one was believed to be British. Foreigners, journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransoms in Somalia.

Jama said security officials would free the hostages by force if necessary.

"We will not accept anyone paying a ransom, so we will secure their release," he said.

Ali Abdi Aware, a Puntland state minister for foreign relations, said the kidnappers likely took the men into the mountains and that security officials were chasing them.

Somalia, an impoverished nation caught up in an Islamic insurgency, has not had a functioning government since 1991. Somali pirates have become increasingly brazen recently, seizing eight vessels in the past two weeks, including a Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of crude oil.

There have been 96 pirate attacks this year in Somali waters, with 39 ships hijacked. Fifteen ships with nearly 300 crew are still in the hands of pirates, who have demanded multimillion dollar ransoms.

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