Two Spanish volunteers working with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) were kidnapped on Thursday at a refugee camp in Dadaab, in the North Eastern Province of Kenya, the local police commander confirmed.
The female volunteers, one from Madrid and one from Barcelona, were taken when militants attached to Al-Shabab, a terrorist group with links to Al Qaeda, attacked two vehicles at the camp, one of which managed to escape. The driver of the other vehicle was seriously wounded when the women were taken hostage. One of the two has been named as Montserrat Serra Ridao, a Girona resident, while the other was still unidentified at press time.
Kenyan authorities pursued the vehicle, which a resident of Dadaab said was traveling in the direction of the border with Somalia, on land and with helicopters. The volunteers were taken to another refugee camp and were said to be "located and safe" by the Catalan regional government.
The families of the two volunteers have been informed of the situation by the NGO, the Foreign Ministry said, and the consulate in Kenya is already working to secure their release. "We utterly condemn this attack," said the director of the Spanish branch of MSF, José Antonio Bastos. "We are in contact with all the pertinent authorities and we are doing everything possible to ensure the swift and safe return of our colleagues. Meanwhile, our thoughts are with them and their families."
In the past few weeks there have been several kidnappings in areas close to the Somali border, where government forces and Al-Shabab have clashed. MSF, which does not employ its own security, and UN agencies in Dadaab have called on their workers to be especially vigilant.