Here are details of foreigners held by kidnappers around Africa. Two hostages were freed in Somalia by U.S. helicopters on Wednesday.
April 2008 - Gunmen seized a Briton and a Kenyan working on a U.N.-funded project.
July 14, 2009 - Somali gunmen kidnapped two French security advisers in Mogadishu. One of them, Marc Aubriere, escaped on August 26.
November 8, 2010 - The European Union anti-piracy task force said it had rescued a South African yachtsman after he was left behind by Somali pirates. Two other South African crew members were taken ashore as hostages.
October 25, 2011 - Three aid workers attached to the Danish Demining Group were kidnapped in the north of the country, the group said. One is a Somali man, two are international staff members, an American, Jessica Buchanan, and a Dane, Poul Thisted. The foreigners were freed on January 25 after a raid by U.S. forces who killed nine pirates and captured another five.
January 2, 2012 - Gunmen kidnapped an American in the Somali town of Galkayo in the semi-autonomous Galmudug region. A senior military official said he was part of a two-man group who had been in the region under the pretext of being journalists.
January 21, 2012 - Michael Scott Moore, a U.S. writer with dual U.S.-German citizenship, was kidnapped by armed militia south of Galkayo in the Galmudug region in central Somalia.
September 11, 2011 - Gunmen raided the Kiwayu Safari Village, shooting dead British publishing executive David Tebbutt, escaping by boat taking his wife, Judith, with them to Somalia.
October 11, 2011 - Six armed men stormed a house on the island of Manda on Kenya's northern coast, grabbed 66-year-old wheelchair-bound Marie Dedieu and carried her to a boat that took her to Somalia. Paris said on October 19 that Dedieu had died.
October 13, 2011 - Two Spanish female aid workers employed by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra, were kidnapped at Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp near Somalia. They have since been moved to central Somalia.
-- The rebel Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) claimed responsibility on January 21 for the kidnapping of two German tourists and two Ethiopians in an attack by gunmen in northern Ethiopia's remote Afar region on January 17.
-- Two Germans, one Austrian, and two Hungarians were killed in the same attack. One Hungarian was also wounded. Ethiopia said the victims were part of a 27-member party that also included U.S., Australian and Belgian nationals.
November 23, 2011 - Two French men, an engineer and a technician who work for a local cement firm were abducted from their hotel in the town of Hombori, about 200 km (125 miles) west of the northern city of Gao in northern Mali.
November 25, 2011 - Gunmen seized three people and killed a fourth on a street in the northern Mali town of Timbuktu. Those kidnapped were from South Africa, the Netherlands and Sweden.
-- Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for both November kidnappings.
February 2, 2011 - A 53-year-old Italian woman, Maria Sandra Mariani, was kidnapped by al Qaeda insurgents while on a tourist trip to the Sahara desert in southeastern Algeria.
October 23, 2011 - Three foreign workers were abducted from a refugee camp near Tindouf in western Algeria. The kidnappers had crossed from Mali.
-- Spain named the two as Ainhoa Fernandez de Rincon and Enric Gonyalons. The Italian was Rossella Urru.
May 12, 2011 - Two engineers, a Briton and an Italian, working for Italian construction firm B. Stabilini in Kebbi State in northern Nigeria, were kidnapped in the town of Birnin-Kebbi.
September 16, 2010 - Seven foreigners were kidnapped in Arlit, in Niger's northern uranium mining zone. AQIM claimed responsibility and demanded a 90 million euro ($130 million) ransom. Earlier in January the group threatened to kill its prisoners if France and its allies attacked its bases in Mali.
-- Some of the foreigners, including five French nationals, worked for French firms and were taken by their captors to Mali the next day.
February 25, 2011 - A Togolese, a Malagasy man and the French wife of one of the employees were freed and handed over to authorities in Niger.
(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)