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UAE plane stopped from leaving Somalia's Puntland after military personnel 'refused baggage search' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

UAE plane stopped from leaving Somalia's Puntland after military personnel 'refused baggage search'

Somalia recently seized $9.6m from a flight from Abu Dhabi [AFP]

Date of publication: 15 April, 2018

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Local reports say that authorities in Somalia's Puntland region have prevented an Emirati plane from flying after a security search was refused.

Authorities in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland reportedly prevented a plane from United Arab Emirates from flying after military trainers travelling with the aircraft allegedly refused a luggage check.

According to Somali online media outlet Maareg, a lengthy standoff ensued at Bosaso airport after the Emirati personnel did not allow their "heavy bags" to be scanned.

Talks are reportedly underway between the UAE and authorities in the northeastern Somali region to resolve the matter.

The airport standoff comes just days after Somali authorities in Mogadishu seized $9.6m from a plane that had arrived from Abu Dhabi.

Somalia's government said that the money had been seized after a security scan of three bags containing them had been refused.

"The security forces noticed the suspicious bags and handed them over to the concerned departments," Somalia's security ministry said in a statement.

The UAE denounced the move as "illegal."

Relations between Somalia and the UAE have deteriorated since the oil-rich Gulf country began operating a major port in Somalia's breakaway territory of Somaliland last year. The UAE also has invited Somaliland officials for state visits and is building a military base there, suggesting that the country is moving toward recognising Somaliland's independence.

Somaliland is located in the strategic Bab al-Mandeb area, and a military base there would allow the UAE to protect its shipping interests in the Gulf of Aden.

Somaliland is also located across from Yemen, making a military base useful for the UAE, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the country.

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