Loise Njoki, a Kenyan national captured by a gang in south central Somalia two years ago, has been rescued from her captors.
Somali security forces, the Kenya Defence Forces, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other partners, secured her release in Adaado, the interim capital city of Galmudug State, about 50 kilometres from Galkayo, on Saturday October 29. She was airlifted to Mogadishu by AMISOM today afternoon, where she was received by Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia Major General (Rtd)Lucas K. Tumbo.
“We are preparing her to go back to Kenya. AMISOM assisted us in bringing her here (Mogadishu), she was in Adaado, we had to get some means to get her here. I talked to AMISOM headquarters and as usual they were kind enough to assist us,’’ said Ambassador Tumbo.
Cautious but excited, Loise enters one of the secure rooms at the Aden Abdule International Airport in Mogadishu upon arrival from Adaado. She sits down with hands folded; and with distant eyes looks at her surroundings, savoring each moment of freedom.
She explains that she came to Somalia to sell herbal medicine and was taken hostage by a local vigilante group she had hired to protect her. She was held captive with her colleague Gachamba Kuria, who was released on February 12 this year.
“Once we were captured we were taken and held inside a room. The house was kept closed, no going out. We were not even allowed to bask in the sun. From that November, December, January until March – that’s when we were allowed to move out. That’s when I realized I had severe numbness on my legs, joints and I had pain in the bones. But my legs were fully numb. I asked them for permission to bask in the sun, but they would not allow. We were given a small amount of food,” Njoki explains.
She said she looks forward to being reunited with her family.
“I have one daughter, the only daughter, I love her very much. The government helped me to make a call to her. It was emotional. She made me cry because she cried. Even today I called her, she still could not believe and she cried very much. I was also moved, even me I cried. I’m dying to see her. I was always thinking of her, about her education, but I could do nothing. I thank God I’m alive,” she said.
The Kenyan ambassador to Somalia expressed gratitude to all parties who were involved in securing Njoki’s freedom.
“We have been looking for them (the gang) in collaboration with the government of Somalia and other international organizations, including NGO’s and individuals that were willing to assist us. She was together with another gentleman, Gachamba Kuria, and in collaboration with the Somali government, we were able to rescue Gachamba in February this year. Actually to be specific, it was the 12th February and we sent him home. Unfortunately it was not possible for the security forces of Somalia to rescue her but we continued to talk to the government of Somalia and people of Somalia. They continued to help us,” explained Ambassador Tumbo
Later, Loise Njoki met with the AU Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, his deputy Hon. Lydia Wanyoto and AMISOM Force Commander Lt. Gen. Osman Noor Soubagleh, at the AMISOM mission headquarters in Mogadishu.
“On behalf of the African Union and AMISOM and all the commanders, I would like to express how happy I am personally, that finally at long last we managed to rescue you from your kidnappers. We want you to go back home and join your family. We are also happy to see that despite all the difficulties you went through you maintained your sanity”, Ambassador Madeira told an elated Njoki.
Ambassador Madeira added that Njoki’s rescue was a clear indication that the days of such gangs in Somalia are numbered.
Njoki returns to her home country Kenya tomorrow.