2 Spanish aid workers freed from Somalia head home, MSF declines comment on ransom

Two Spanish aid workers kidnapped by Somali militants from a Kenyan refugee camp in 2011 were on their way home Friday but the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) organization they worked for declined to say whether a ransom had been paid.

"We are very concerned and cognizant for security risks ongoing for MSF staff inside Somalia and also that there are ongoing abductions still to be resolved. We feel it would be inappropriate and insecure of us to provide details relating to captivity or to the ransom," MSF program manager Will Robertson said in Nairobi, Kenya.

"What I will say is that we've had a lot of support from many stakeholders within Somalia and we are very grateful for their assistance," he added.

The release of Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut was announced by MSF on Thursday. The two were kidnapped in October 2011 when Somali militants entered the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya in October 2011 and took them hostage after shooting and wounding their Kenyan driver.

The attack was the third kidnapping of Europeans in Kenya in six weeks and a reason Kenya gave for sending troops into Somalia days later.

Speaking in Madrid, MSF president in Spain Jose Antonio Bastos said the two women were healthy and eager to see relatives when the Spanish military plane carrying them lands at a military airport near Madrid on Friday afternoon. The MSF asked the media and the public to respect the privacy of the women and their families.

The plane picked up the two in Djibouti but Bastos did not say how they got there or how the release was arranged. In Nairobi, Robertson said he had "no major information" on where the women were held in Somalia or by whom.

He said the 2011 abductions, which occurred even as Somalia was suffering from a famine that killed more than 250,000 people, had a detrimental impact on MSF's ability to respond to famine needs.


Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya and Alan Clendenning and Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.