'Somali gunmen seize 2 Italian aid workers and Somali colleague'

Gunmen seized two Italian aid workers and their Somali colleague in an overnight attack, a witness said on Wednesday. Village elder Ahmed Yunis said the two men and the Italian woman were blindfolded before the fighters took them away from Awdhigle village in central Somalia. He said the three worked for the Italian aid organization Cooperazione Italiana Nord Sud, whose Web site says it engages mainly in development work and emergency relief. CINS is supported by the European Union, United Nations and USAID. Aid officials were not immediately available for comment. Somali insurgents vowed to target foreign aid workers after a US missile strike killed the head of the Islamist al-Shabab militia, Aden Hashi Ayro, and 24 other people earlier this month. Ayro was reputed to be the top al-Qaida commander in Somalia and was linked to a string of attacks on foreign aid workers and journalists. Earlier this year, Doctors Without Borders pulled out its foreign staff from Somalia after two of them were kidnapped and three foreigners and a Somali were killed when their car hit a land mine. A German aid worker was also seized in February but released unharmed. A Briton and a Kenyan worker contracted to an aid agency remain missing.