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Colin Freeman, Jose Cendon Released By Somali Kidnappers

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — Two foreign journalists _ a Briton and a Spaniard _ were released in good health Sunday after nearly six weeks in captivity in Somalia, officials said.

The journalists, reporter Colin Freeman, 39, of The Sunday Telegraph and freelance photographer Jose Cendon, 34, were working on a piracy story when they were kidnapped Nov. 26.

The Sunday Telegraph's publisher confirmed the two journalists had been freed.

"This is wonderful news and we are delighted that the two journalists will soon be reunited with their families, friends and colleagues," Telegraph Media Group said in a statement in London. The company would not say whether a ransom had been paid.

In a story published on its Web site, the newspaper quoted Freeman as saying the pair "are absolutely fine ... We've absolutely no problems at all ether physically or mentally."

"We survived on rice, goat meat and Rothmans," Freeman said. "I gave up smoking in 1992 and somehow decided now would be a good time to start up again."

The newspaper said the men were held in caves in the mountains and moved occasionally as their kidnappers tried to dodge rival gangs or the authorities.

Foreigners, journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransoms in the Horn of Africa nation. The Associated Press did not previously identify the two journalists out of concern for their safety.

Somali officials have said the men were abducted as they left their hotel for the airport to leave Somalia, likely by local gunmen or their bodyguards.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press that Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos spoke by phone with Cendon and confirmed to the photographer's family that he was released and is in good health.

The British Foreign Office welcomed the release.

Two freelance journalists, an Australian and a Canadian, kidnapped near the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in August are still being held.

Somalia has been beset by anarchy and an insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing.


AP Writers Harold Heckle in Madrid, Spain, and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.