The captors of 66-year-old French hostage Marie Dedieu who is being held in Somali’s Kismayu region have said they will allow her to receive her medication but have made no demands for ransom. Sources said that her family has made contacts with her captors to request if they could provide her with the medication she needs.
Dedieu, who is disabled and requires the use of a wheelchair, is also fighting cancer. She is on several medications including one type which she has to take every four hours but which she has not been able to receive since she was kidnapped six days ago. “I’m not very sure just who is holding her yet. It must be one of the many unknown groups that want to benefit. Soon she will be in our hands if they agree to the exchange,” said Abdirizak Ahmed, a spokesman of the Al Itihaad group which is holding the British national Judith Tebbut who was kidnapped last month from the Kiwayu Safari resort.
Her husband was shot dead when he tried to fight off the abductors. Abdirizak said the people who captured Dedieu and Tebbut had offered to turn them over to his group in exchange for money. It is not clear how the family made contact with Dedieu’s captors or even how the medication will be sent to her.
Andrew Mwangura, the Somali Report Maritime Editor who has keenly been following the rise in piracy and kidnaps by Somali militia, said the Red Cross, Christian Aid or any other internationally recognised organisation was unlikely to be used in the transaction. He said the kidnappers were unlikely to trust these organisations and will most probably get a trusted person to act as an intermediary.
Dedieu has since her kidnap been moved to three different locations by her captors. Mwangura said the decision by her captors to allow her family to send her medication was an indication that they may not want to kill her as they would have done by now. What is however puzzling is why there have been no demands for ransom for either Dedieu or Tebbut. Pirate gangs based in Somalia make millions of shillings a year by seizing ships and their crew and holding them until they are paid a ransom.
Mwangura said the kidnappers were not Al Shabaab but were most likely pirates who had decided to operate on land as well. He cited the similarity in the mode of abduction and escape to support his claim. In both instances, the kidnappers escaped by speedboat. Both Al Shabaab and Al Itihaad have denied kidnapping the two women but their spokesmen have however confirmed that armed gangs based in Somalia and working with their accomplices in Kenya are behind the kidnaps.
These gangs may have decided that kidnapping Westerners would be an easy way to make money. Yesterday, the Defence parliamentary select committee investigating the kidnappings said it will summon all police chiefs in Coast province and is expected to summon Internal Security minister George Saitot.
The committee chaired by Adan Keynan completed its fact finding tour at the Coast where they met with tourism stakeholders, local leaders as well as members of the public to try and understand the motivation behind the recent incidents which pose a threat to the tourism sector.
Keynan said they want the police and military bosses to explain whether the country has the capacity and ability to man the Kenya- Somalia border as well as the coastline. “We shall also meet with the commander of the General Service Unit and other heads of the security agencies so that they can give us an explanation before we make our recommendations,” Keynan said.
He said Saitoti is expected to give the committee a full report of the investigations as well as give an explanation of the interventions that have been taken to stop a repeat of the incident. Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula is expected to be among those summoned by the committee. Commissioner of Police Mathew Iteere is reportedly considering reshuffling police officers in the province following the incidents, sources at Vigilance House said.