Hargeysa, Somaliland, February 2, 2013 – Somaliland has dismissed as “baseless” a British government warning of an imminent attack on foreigners.
London urged all British nationals to leave Somaliland immediately on Sunday, warning of a “specific threat” to foreigners. Ireland issued the same alert to its citizens.
Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdillahi Omer told reporters on Sunday night that there was no “imminent threat and danger from terrorists” and that the “UK government’s presumption of insecurity in Somaliland is baseless.”
Even before its latest warning, Britain advised against all travel to Somaliland – an enclave that declared independence in 1991 – as well as to wider Somalia, due to the “high threat from terrorism” and kidnapping. On Sunday it said there was an ongoing danger of “kidnapping for financial or political gain, motivated by criminality or terrorism”.
The British and Irish warnings came days after European countries said there was a “specific and imminent” threat to foreigners in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. British Prime Minister David Cameron called North Africa a “magnet for jihadists”.
Somaliland has been relatively peaceful since it broke away from Somalia – a country racked by decades of civil war. However, fighting erupted last January after the leaders of Somaliland’s northern regions banded together into a new state called Khaatumo.
(Reporting by Hussein Ali Nur; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)