German kidnapped in northern Somalia

A German national and his Somali wife were kidnapped by gunmen in the northern Somali breakaway state of Puntland, according to local officials.

The pair’s vehicle was intercepted as they were driving in the port city of Bossaso on Saturday evening, Puntland police officer Ahmed Jama said. “The German national and his Somali wife were kidnapped by gunmen who took them towards the mountainous areas in eastern Bossaso,” he said.

Officials said the German national, whose name could not immediately be confirmed, had been staying in Bossaso for several weeks. “The German citizen was trying to visit his wife’s relatives when the gunmen kidnapped. We have been told that he is a Muslim with a Somali wife who resides in Bossaso,” Puntland presidential adviser Bile Mohamoud Qabowsade said.

Armed gangs in Puntland elsewhere in Somalia have carried out scores of kidnappings in recent months, often targeting foreigners or Somalis working with international organisations to demand ransoms.

Kidnappers have been holding three journalists – a Canadian, an Australian and a Somali – since August 23 and are reportedly demanding $2.5 million to release them.

Southern Somalia has been torn by 17 years of almost uninterrupted civil conflict since the 1991 ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre. Thousands of civilians have died in the guerrilla war that has pitted invading Ethiopian troops against Islamist insurgents since last year.

The self-declared state of Puntland has been largely spared by the latest violence but it has been used by pirates taking foreign ships hostage and gangs smuggling goods, arms and people across the Gulf of Aden.


German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.