UN frees Somalis loyal to Aideed

MOGADISHU (Reuter) - The United Nations, in an attempt to improve peace prospects in Somalia, yesterday freed eight Somali detainees loyal to the Mogadishu warlord General Mohamed Farah Aideed.

Witnesses said five followers of General Aideed were first handed over to officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Mogadishu. About an hour later, the General's chief financier, Osman Atto, his spokesman, Mohamed Hassan Awale, and Omar Salad, another top aide, were handed over to the ICRC.

General Aideed, who has been in Nairobi over the past three weeks, would not comment immediately. His aides said he would make a statement after studying the whole situation. 'The chairman (General Aideed) has no immediate comment to make on the release of the prisoners. But he is following the events and will make a full response later,' said an official from General Aideed's umbrella Somali National Alliance. The freed men were driven straight to an SNA rally.

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