Canadian journalist fears she'll die in Somalia unless government helps
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | 11:50 AM ET
A Canadian freelance journalist held hostage for nine months in Somalia fears she may die in captivity unless the federal government and her family pay a ransom, according to a news report.
"The situation here is very dire and very serious. I've been a hostage for nine months. The conditions are very bad. I don't drink clean water. I am fed at most once a day," Amanda Lindhout reportedly told Agence France-Presse in a phone interview Sunday.
"I have been sick for months. Unless my government, the people of Canada, all my family and friends can get $1 million, I will die here, OK. That is certain."
Lindhout, Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, fixer Abdifatah Elmi and two drivers were abducted by roadside kidnappers outside the country's capital, Mogadishu, on Aug. 23.
Brennan and Lindhout, a native of Red Deer, Alta., were reporting on refugees escaping factional fighting in Mogadishu when they were abducted.
Elmi, who along with the drivers was released in January, told CBC News that Lindhout shared her food and helped keep their spirits up while they were being held. Elmi fled in March to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, because he was afraid for his life.
The Department of Foreign Affairs wouldn't discuss Lindhout's case, but said in an email it is pursuing all appropriate channels. Lindhout's family in Alberta also declined to comment.
Lindhout's colleagues and friends are trying to keep her case in the public spotlight through YouTube videos, Facebook pages and the website amandalindhout.com.
With factional fighting in Mogadishu at its worse in recent memory, Elmi, who said he hasn't been interviewed by Canadian government officials, expressed deep concerns about his colleagues.
"I am very worried about them and I am begging Allah every night and every day for their freedom," Elmi said.
Lindhout's comments seem scripted
AFP reported in Sunday's story that Lindhout's statements seemed to be part of a prepared script.
When pressed by the reporter for details on her health, Lindhout replied: "I cannot answer any question that you have. What I just said, that's all I can say."
In the interview, Brennan urged the Australian government to free him. He said he has been shackled for four months and his body is breaking down due to a high fever.
Kidnappings of foreigners by mercenaries are not unusual in Somalia, which has been ravaged by civil war since the central government of president Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.
Recently, Islamist rebels have fought pitched battles with government troops in the streets of Mogadishu in a bid to overthrow the internationally recognized transitional government of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
Gun battles, mortar attacks and suicide bombings have forced an estimated 57,000 people to flee Mogadishu.With files from The Canadian Press
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