24/05/08 (B449) REUTERS. Des hommes armés relâchent un universitaire Kenyan qui avait été pris en otage la semaine dernière à Mogadiscio

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, May 23 (Reuters) – Somali gunmen released a Kenyan university lecturer on Friday after abducting him in the capital Mogadishu last week, a university staff member said.

« Moses (Nyandusi Matundura) is in a Mogadishu hotel then on his way to Kenya, » the staff member, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters.

« He was treated well and is in (a) good condition. »

Ten days ago, three assailants abducted Matundura after bundling him into a car waiting to take him home from the Mogadishu University campus. He was believed to have been held in an Islamist stronghold in the north of the capital.

It was not clear if a $100,000 ransom demanded for Matundura, a public administration lecturer, had been paid.

Gunmen have seized at least eight foreigners in Somalia in the past year, although such kidnappings have until recently been rare in the south of the country, considered too dangerous for most expatriates. Most seizures for ransom had occurred in the more stable northern regions.

Following the death of an Islamist militant in a May 1 U.S. air-strike, one insurgent leader told Somali radio there would be retaliations against foreigners. Washington says some Islamist fighters have links to al Qaeda.

Insurgents linked to the Islamic Courts movement have been battling Somalia’s Ethiopian-backed government since being ousted from power in late 2006.

Two Italian aid workers and their Somali colleague were abducted from Awdigle town, 65 km (40 miles) south of the capital, on Wednesday. Aid agency Cooperazione Italiana Nord Sud (CINS) said in a statement it had spoken to the three and they had not been harmed.

Kidnapping for ransom and piracy are well-paid enterprises in Somalia, which has been without an effective central government since the fall of a dictator in 1991.

(Writing by Jack Kimball;
Editing by Catherine Evans)