Candles lit for captive Nigel as wait continues

By Clementine Norton

FAMILY and friends of kidnapped ex-NewsMail photographer Nigel Brennan are preparing for a long wait for news after officials admitted they cannot expect a speedy resolution.

Long-term family friend Jeff Bennett said Mr Brennan's parents were desperately awaiting positive news.

They are besides themselves and feeling helpless, but they are trying to stay positive," he said.

Mr Bennett said his children had lit a candle as a vigil for Mr Brennan while they waited for news.

"When he comes home, they will blow it out," he said.

Mr Bennett last heard from his friend about two weeks ago, when he said he was looking forward to catching up with his mates for "a beer and a fish".

"He was supposed to be coming back to Bundaberg in the next couple of weeks," Mr Bennett said.

Mr Bennett described 36-year-old Mr Brennan as selfless, and said he always put others' needs before his own.

"That's why he goes to those places; he wants to help out," he said.

Fellow Bundaberg photographer and friend Paul Beutel said Mr Brennan knew the risks of working in dangerous places.

"He wanted to document the world, and you'd have to expect some trouble so he would be prepared," Mr Beutel said.

Australian Federal Police and extra diplomatic staff have been sent to Somalia to probe the kidnapping by members of an armed militia.

It is understood Mr Brennan and 26-year-old Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Landhout were kidnapped at gunpoint about 25km from the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSJ) said on its website that the pair, as well as two Somalis who accompanied them, were being held by a militia group, north-east of the capital Mogadishu.

It was not clear whether they are being held for political reasons or for ransom, the union said.

"Journalists who spoke on condition of anonymity for their security said the abduction seems (to be a) pre-planned attack," the website said.

The journalists were abducted as they came from interviewing and taking photos at a refugee camp in Afgoye district, the union said.

University of Queensland's School of Political Science and International Relations lecturer Professor Alex Bellamy told AAP that Somalia existed in a state of lawlessness and it hosted a variety of militias.

He said that presuming the journalists were taken by one of dozens of militias rather than a militant group, it is likely they would ask for a ransom of around $23,000 to $34,600. Prof Bellamy said most kidnappings were resolved within weeks, and ransoms were often paid, but not publicly disclosed.

Yesterday the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said the Australian High Commissioner in Nairobi has spoken to senior members of the Somali Government and said local police were conduction investigations.

DFAT officials were also providing consular assistance to Mr Brennan's family in Bundaberg.



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