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women's minister abducted by Al-ShABAAB.

Summary: Islamist rebels seized Somalia's newly appointed women's minister Thursday as she took office, heightening security fears for aid groups planning deliveries to a famine-struck nation.

MOGADISHU: Islamist rebels seized Somalia's newly appointed women's minister Thursday as she took office, heightening security fears for aid groups planning deliveries to a famine-struck nation.

Armed men abducted 32-year-old Asha Osman Aqiil in Balad, a town north of the capital Mogadishu, a day after she was named the country's minister for women and family affairs.

She was on her way to take up her position when she was snatched by a gang, clan elder Ahmad Sheikh Mahmoud told AFP.

"It is unfortunate that she is in the hands of the wrong people and we are praying that she is freed," said a lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We condemn the kidnapping of the women's affairs minister by Al-Shabaab. Somali women will do what it takes to secure her freedom," women rights activist Sahra Maalin told reporters.

"Aqiil is a prisoner of conscience and her unlawful arrest must be rejected," she added.

Maalin described the minister's abduction as a "collective punishment against Somali women and all those who believe in equality."

Al-Shabaab, classified a terrorist group by the U.S., have waged a bloody campaign to overthrow the country's Western-backed government accusing it of being an apostate administration.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Jul 22, 2011
Words:242
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