In Arabic, “Sahafi” means, roughly, press, and initial reports suggested two French nationals kidnapped at gunpoint from the Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, were journalists.
However, Paris has now confirmed the men were security advisors for the Somali president’s guard. “I was in the hotel during the abduction,” said an eyewitness. “I could see Somali gunmen pointing guns at two white foreigners. Then they put them in a pickup. People say they told the hotel owners they were journalists but we later heard they were military experts here to train government forces.” Lawless Somalia managed to elect a president in January but since early May President Sharif Cheik Ahmed has been hemmed in in his palace by militant islamist militias. In the latest fighting this weekend more than 20 people were killed and 100 wounded in fierce fighting in the capital. His government is backed by the UN and a 4,300-strong African Union peacekeeping force.