Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a German nurse from the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Wednesday night, police and the ICRC said.
While abductions and killings of Somali aid workers are common in the Horn of Africa country, the targeting of foreign workers has become far less frequent in recent years as security has improved.
“We got the report minutes after she was abducted and now we are searching the whole area. We hope we shall find her,” Major Mohamed Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters.
The ICRC said in a statement the abduction occurred around 8 pm (1700 GMT) on Wednesday.
“We are deeply concerned about the safety of our colleague,” said Daniel O’Malley, the ICRC’s deputy head of delegation for Somalia.
“She is a nurse who was working every day to save lives and improve the health of some of Somalia’s most vulnerable people,” he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction.
The Swiss-based agency, which has provided a range of humanitarian aid in Somalia for years, said in its statement early on Thursday it was in touch with a range of authorities but could not provide further information.
The organisation’s staff had earlier told Reuters that the kidnappers snatched their colleague from inside their compound in Mogadishu and took her out through a back door, avoiding security guards stationed at the main entrance.
Residents said the district where the abduction occurred was quickly sealed off by police and other security forces.
Somalia has suffered lawlessness since 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
Major armed conflict has abated in recent years, allowing elections for president and parliament. However, al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants still regularly launch attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.
On Tuesday, unidentified gunmen shot dead a Somali World Health Organization employee in Mogadishu.
A relative of the victim identified her as Maryan Abdullahi and said she was targeted while visiting the Bakara market in the capital to buy items for her wedding next week. The motive for the shooting was not clear and the gunmen escaped.