Mogadishu- Somalia (PANA) -- With cases of violence against civilians continuing to increase in Mogadishu, the country's national police forces reported Sunday that they had freed six civilians abducted a week ago.
Police spokesman Mohammed Omar Madale named those freed as Madina Hassan Jim'ale (35) with her three children: daughter Leyla (10), son Hassan (9) and her four-month infant, Artan.
The family was kidnapped from Bal'ad District, some 30 km north of Mogadishu, by gunmen who took them to the Karan area of in Mogadishu.
But in a strange turn of events, two elders from the divided capital, who were sent to negotiate with the abductors for the release of the family, were also taken hostage by the gunmen.
Madale said that the kidnappers shifted their hostages two days ago from Karan to Yakhshid Village, also in north Mogadishu.
During a well-coordinated operation to free the hostages, police and the kidnappers exchanged fire for 20 minutes before freeing all hostages.
Three of the kidnappers gave themselves up to the police, who also recovered two AK-47 rifles, one cellular phone and a radio cassette believed to be used for recording messages to the relatives of the hostages.
Hostage Abdi Farah Nur, one of the elders injured during the operation, is recovering at Mogadishu police hospital.
A civilian in the village was also injured after being hit by a stray bullet from the crossfire between the police and the gangs.
One of the rescued hostages said the abductors were demanding a ransom of about 4,500 US dollars.
She added that the kidnappers claiming that the money they were demanding was in fact a debt they had with an escaped relative.
The spokesman said investigations were still going on and the three suspects, who are now in police custody, will be taken to court as soon as investigations were completed.
Sunday's action by the police marked the first time the force had asserted itself since its formation nearly a year ago.
However, despite the fruitful operation carried out by the police, there are at least 10 other people, including a two-year-old child, reportedly being held hostage in Mogadishu.