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Freed Spanish aid workers arrive home to Madrid

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July 19, 2013 11:42 AM EST | AP

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MADRID — Two Spanish aid workers for Doctors Without Borders who were kidnapped in Kenya by Somali militants and held hostage for nearly two years arrived home Friday, the group said.

Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut were met by relatives after their arrival at an air base in Madrid, it said. Somali militants kidnapped them from the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya in Oct. 2011 and shot and wounded their Kenyan driver.

The attack was the third kidnapping of Europeans in Kenya in six weeks and a reason Kenya gave for sending troops into Somalia days later.

The organization, also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontieres, announced their release Thursday, but declined to reveal whether a ransom had been paid. It gave few other details, citing security concerns for staff in Somalia and ongoing abduction cases.

"We feel it would be inappropriate and insecure of us to provide details relating to captivity or to the ransom," Will Robertson, the group's program manager, said in Nairobi, Kenya. "What I will say is that we've had a lot of support from many stakeholders within Somalia and we are very grateful for their assistance."

Speaking in Madrid, the group's leader in Spain, Jose Antonio Bastos, said the two women were healthy.

The plane picked the two up in Djibouti but Bastos did not say how they got there or how the release was arranged. Robertson said he had "no major information" on where the women were held in Somalia or by whom.

The abductions came as Somalia was suffering from a famine that killed more than 250,000 people and made it difficult for the organization to respond to the country's needs, Robertson said.