New Somali Minister for Women Kidnapped

Posted July 21st, 2011 at 4:15 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Somalia's new minister for women has been kidnapped by the militant group al-Shabab, less than a day after her appointment.

A sister of the kidnapped minister told VOA Thursday Asha Osman Aqil was seized by al-Shabab fighters in Somalia's Middle Shabelle region, which is in the heart of the rebel group's territory.

The sister says Aqil only learned of her appointment as women's minister when it was announced on the radio. She says Aqil went to local representatives of al-Shabab to explain that she had not sought the position and did not recognize the central government, and said she planned to plead with them to leave her in peace because she is the widowed mother of nine children.

The sister says Aqil never came home from that meeting.

The sister's account conflicts with a report by Bloomberg News, which quotes Somalia's work, youth and sports minister as saying Aqil was assisting drought-affected people in the town of Jowhar when she was captured.

The United Nations declared a famine in Somalia's Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions on Wednesday.

The sister says Aqil lives in Jawhar, but was captured more than 50 kilometers away while visiting a sick relative.

There has been no comment about the kidnapping from al-Shabab.

The group is attempting to overthrow Somalia's United Nations-backed government and establish an Islamic state.