Hostage survivor Amanda Lindhout: I’ve forgiven the Somali kidnappers who tortured me

THE aspiring journalist and her boyfriend travelled to Somalia to report on the lawless nation, instead she was snatched at gunpoint and spent 15 months at the mercy of her brutal captors

As a child growing up in the small rural town of Red Deer in Canada, Amanda Lindhout dreamed of swapping her humdrum life for far-flung adventures. At 19 she took a waitressing job and used her tips to build a travel fund.

Over the next few years she ventured far and wide, backpacking on her own around Venezuela, visiting Ethiopia and even taking up a post as a rookie journalist for an Iranian press agency in Baghdad.

In 2008, at the age of 26, Amanda decided to go to Somalia with her friend Nigel Brennan, an Australian photographer. Together they hoped to share the stories of the ordinary people struggling to live in a country regarded as being one of the most lawless in the world.

On their third morning they set off for a refugee camp outside the capital Mogadishu. Somalis driven from their homes by a brutal civil war were arriving there in droves.

Accompanying the pair were their local expert “fixer”, a driver, the head of security from the camp and two hired bodyguards.

What happened next, says Amanda, was “like something from a Hollywood movie”. A dozen men, faces covered and brandishing guns, surrounded the car and dragged the group out.

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