Two Save the Children staff have been kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Somalia, the charity says.
The men, seized from the town of Adado near the Ethiopian border, are a British security consultant and a local aid worker.
Locals said the security consultant also has Zimbabwean nationality.
The BBC’s Mohamed Mwalimu says the kidnapping came amid fierce fighting involving tanks and heavy artillery around Adado.
Local residents have told our correspondent in the capital, Mogadishu, that a moderate Islamist group allied to the UN-backed government seized the town from a local warlord on Friday morning, in clashes which left at least seven people dead.
One Somalia expert has told the BBC that the group, Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama, attacked Adado in retaliating for the kidnapping.
But the group says it moved in because of an increase in activity there by the hardline Islamist group al-Shabab, which has links to al-Qaeda.
… The security consultant had gone there to see if it was safe enough for Save the Children to set up a new base to help malnourished and sick children, along with their families.
But on Thursday evening, a group of masked gunmen stormed the building used as a staff residence.
High walls and a heavy steel gate reportedly forced the kidnappers to climb in through a window before they fled with their hostages into an area said to be controlled by al-Shabab.
Save the Children says it is extremely concerned about the welfare of those being held and calls for their unconditional release.
Germany announced on Thursday it would fund Islamic studies at three state universities to train prayer leaders and religion teachers more in tune with Western society than the foreign imams preaching at most mosques here.
Two universities, Tuebingen and Muenster, are famous for their faculties of Christian theology and count German-born Pope Benedict among their former professors. The third, Osnabrueck, opened a course for imams this week with 30 students.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, several European countries have been seeking ways to educate imams at their universities rather than importing them from Islamic countries out of step with modern and multicultural societies.
Germany, whose state schools have separate religion classes for their Catholic, Protestant and Jewish pupils, also needs qualified Islam teachers for Muslims. Some states already offer Islam classes in their schools and more plan to do so.
“We want as many imams as possible to be educated in Germany,” said Education Minister Annette Schavan. “Imams are bridge builders between their congregations and the communities in which their mosques stand.”
The mayor of Lleida, Àngel Ros, said yesterday in an interview to El món a RAC1 that the Muslim community in Lleida “isn’t in any process of radicalization” after the prohibition, to women wearing the full Islamic veil, of entering municipal facilities. The ban, which also extends to other objects that cover their faces like masks and helmets, has been accepted even by some of the Muslim community. According to Ros, “this has been a clear sign that not everything can be allowed in the integration process.” … the socialist leader believes that “immigration should be controlled because the welfare state can not assume all“, while generating “activity and wealth in countries from where immigration comes from.” “Immigrants must accept the roles of the host society” and understand that “go with the face covered in a civic center is not a sign of coexistence,” he said.
Back in July, he told the Islamic community that the Major’s office wasn’t obliged to give religious communities temples, after the closure of the Mosque from Nord street. Local police have counted 1,200 people going to the mosque, while its capacity was of only 240. “It’s “obvious” that if they want to pray at a mosque, the community must meet the conditions and legal regulations“, he added.
The Salafist imam who run the mosque, Abdelwahab Houzi, said that he felt he was being persecuted.
OSLO’S appeals court decided Thursday to release one of three men arrested in July on suspicions of plotting a bombing on an as yet unclear target, a Norwegian newspaper reported.
The judges ruled that there was no risk that David Jakobsen, a 32-year-old Uzbek legally residing in Norway, would try to flee the country or destroy evidence, the Verdens Gang reported on its website.
Jakobsen and Mikael Davud, a 39-year-old ethnic Uighur from China who is a Norwegian citizen, were arrested in Oslo on July 8. A third man, Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, a 37-year-old Iraqi Kurd who holds a Norwegian residence permit, was arrested in Germany and extradited to Norway.
Norwegian police suspect the three were plotting a bombing and are believed to have links to Al-Qaeda.
Jakobsen is the only one of the three suspects to have not confessed. He tipped off police about the bombing plot but investigators suspect that he may have played a double role.
The other two suspects have rejected having any link to Al-Qaeda but have admitted to plotting an attack although their versions of what the target was differ. The two are to remain in detention until Nov 1.
They were detained after a shoot-out near a village in central Pakistan, said Abdi Qadri, a senior police officer, and revealed their plans under interrogation.
The men, suspected members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a banned Sunni militant group linked to the Taliban and al Qaeda, told police officers they were devising a plot to attack the home of Yousuf Raza Gilan, the prime minister, in Multan.
“We have averted several high-profile attacks by arresting these terrorists,” said Mr Qadri. The men opened fire when police tried to stop their car for a routine check.
Two passengers managed to escape on foot.
Mr Qadri added that some of the suspects were believed to have taken part in last year’s attack on the main Pakistani spy agency in the central city of Multan that killed 12 people.
They also had plans to attack a key dam, a bridge and military installations as well as Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the foreign minister.