Getting shot at, mortared or blown up — these are not the scariest things in my line of work. The thing I’m most terrified of is abduction. The uncertainty, the sustained grinding fear, the creeping madness that comes from knowing you’re probably going to die … and can’t do anything about it. That’s my nightmare.
So it’s with a sick feeling in my stomach that I pass on this report:
Somali gunmen kidnapped five people, including two foreign journalists, according to police and eyewitnesses.
The two journalists, an Australian man and Canadian woman, had been staying at the Shamo Hotel and were scheduled to visit a refugee camp at Elasha, 17 kilometers (10 miles) south of Mogadishu, Ahmed Ali Salad, a worker at the hotel, said by telephone today. He said he knew only their first names, Nigel and Amanda. A Somali translator and two drivers working with them are also missing, he added.
The abductees are freelancers Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan. Amanda, the poor girl, is just 26 years old. I’m glad to report that my friend Ajoos, a fixer working at Shamo, was not among those kidnapped, but it seems two of Shamo’s security detail might have been. I’ve emailed Ajoos and some of my other Somalia sources for more information, so stay tuned.
The Shamo was my home in Somalia for several weeks late last year. It’s an island of comfort and security in a very troubled country. But you can’t report from the island.