MOGADISHU, Somalia Two Europeans and a Somali who were kidnapped Saturday in southwestern Somalia were released the same day, officials said.
The three kidnap victims a Swede, a Dane and a Somali had been working with a U.N. program to clear land mines. They will be flown Sunday to Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, according to the U.N.'s humanitarian and resident coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden.
No ransom was paid for the release, which was negotiated by clan elders, government officials and others, he said.
"We are grateful to the local community, local government officials and everyone else involved in helping secure their release," Bowden said.
The governor of Bakol region, Mohamed Abdi, confirmed the release but declined to say who was behind the kidnapping.
Kidnappings have been on the rise in Somalia, which has had no effective central government or rule of law since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown by warlords in 1991. The warlords then turned on each other, and Somalia descended into anarchy and violence.
So far this year nine aid workers have been abducted, according to a report released Friday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Five people kidnapped in the past week alone are still being held. Pirates are demanding a $1 million ransom in exchange for releasing a German couple, their son and a French yacht captain abducted Monday off the Gulf of Aden. Separately, a Somali employee of the U.N. refugee agency was taken June 21 outside Mogadishu.
Islamic insurgents aiming to wrest control from the U.N.-backed transitional government captured the strategic central town of Belet Weyne on Saturday, residents said.
Belet Weyne resident Omar Kiyow said the insurgents did not fire a shot because Ethiopian troops, who are in Somalia to support the weak government, had left the town and there were no Somali soldiers.
In recent months the insurgents have briefly seized control of a handful of towns in central and southern Somalia, including Hudur and Belet Weyne. The attacks are usually seen as a show of strength rather than a strategy to reclaim territory they lost in December 2006 when Ethiopian troops entered Somalia.