Two Libyan diplomats have been released just hours after they were abducted from the Bakara market in Mogadishu.The diplomats were shopping at the city’s busiest and largest market on Saturday when 10 armed men took them, according to their driver.

“Our colleagues are at home,” a Libyan diplomat told the AFP news agency.

The Libyan embassy name the two men as Neji Gsuda, the Libyan charge d’affaires, and Fethi Abu Daya, a colleague.

The diplomats’ Somali driver was also briefly taken but was released and sounded the alarm.

Libya and Sudan are the only countries to have kept a continued, albeit intermittent, diplomatic presence in Somalia throughout the civil strife that has engulfed the nation since Mohamed Siad Barre was forced from power in 1991.

Ransoms

The motive for the abduction was not immediately clear, but Somali criminal gangs have previously demanded large ransoms to free hostages.

However, a Libyan foreign ministry official told the Associated Press news agency that no ransom money was paid. He would not elaborate on what efforts took place and who was involved in negotiating their release.

On Wednesday, a Spanish doctor and an Argentinian nurse were freed after one week in captivity in Somalia’s breakaway republic of Puntland.

Local media reported that their captors had demanded a $365,000 ransom, but the Spanish foreign ministry insisted no money was paid to secure their freedom.

Last month, a French cameraman who was in Puntland to film a documentary on the smuggling of refugees from Somalia across the Gulf of Aden, was also freed after being held for more than a week.

The abduction coincided with the swearing in of 15 new ministers and five deputies by parliament as part of a new cabinet designed to help the interim government build solid institutions before elections due in late 2009.

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