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American man kidnapped in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Gunmen kidnapped an American man in the northern Somali town of Galkayo Saturday, officials said, the same day an airstrike killed a senior insurgent leader with ties to al-Qaida in another part of the country.

The gunmen surrounded the man's car shortly after the man left the airport, said policeman Abdi Hassan Nur, who witnessed the incident. He said they then forced the American into another vehicle.

Galkayo is on the border between the semiautonomous northern region of Puntland and a region known as Galmudug. It is ruled by forces friendly to the UN-backed Somali government.

A minister from the Galmudug administration said the gunmen severely beat the foreigner's Somali companion when he begged them not to take the man.

A staff member at the Embassy Hotel, where the man was staying, said the American had gone to the airport to drop off an Indian colleague. The hotel said that the man had both American and German citizenship.

In October, gunmen kidnapped an American woman and a Danish man working for the Danish Demining Group from the same town. They are still being held.

Kidnapping for ransom has become increasingly common in Somalia over the past five years. Currently at least four aid workers, a French military official, a British tourist taken from Kenya and hundreds of sailors are being held captive.

In a separate incident in the south of the country outside the capital of Mogadishu, a British-Lebanese commander of the al-Shabab militant group was killed along with two others when a missile struck the car they were traveling in, al-Shabab spokesman Sheik Ali Rage said.

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