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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 15:19 GMT
Somalia rejects links to Kenya attacks
Remains of the Paradise Hotel
Attackers killed 13 people at the Paradise Hotel
Somalia has rejected allegations by Ethiopia that it was used as a rear base for the attacks in Mombasa last month.


It's just as likely that the weapons used for the attack in Mombasa came from Ethiopia

Abdulkassim Salad Hassan
The president of Somalia's interim government, Abdiqasim Salad Hassan, said that there were no terrorist camps in Somalia.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told the BBC at the weekend that the Somali group with links to al-Qaeda, known as al-Ittihad, may have travelled to Kenya by boat from Rascomboni, in southern Somalia, to carry out their operation.

Mr Meles offered no evidence to substantiate these views.

The BBC's Martin Plaut in Addis Abeba says that with senior US officials due in Addis Ababa this week, Mr Meles will have every opportunity to convince them that al-Ittihad had a hand in the attacks.

Proof

Mr Abdulkassim said that his government has already proved to the world that there are no terrorist camps anywhere in Somalia.

He said that delegations from the United Nations and representatives of the international media, visited Rascomboni in mid-March this year.

Abdulkassim Salad Hassan
President Hassan has a shaky hold on power

"Contrary to what Ethiopia and the enemies of Somalia are saying, they found no terrorist camps or training facilities in these areas," Mr Abdulkassim said at a press conference in his presidential palace on Monday.

The Somali president accused Ethiopia of trying to capitalise on the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

"Meles Zenawi is just trying to take advantage of American fears since the attacks on the twin towers in September last year," he said.

Surveillance

"There is continuous air and sea surveillance by the international community investigating whether there are terrorist elements in Somalia and whether there might be al-Qaeda people fleeing into Somalia from Afghanistan, and so far nothing wrong has been found against Somalia."

"Kenya is a big enough country to carry out its own investigations against the perpetrators of the attack in Mombasa, and we are waiting for the outcome of their investigation," Mr Abdiqasim said.

Meles Zenawi
Ethiopia believes that Somalia is a source of instability in the region.

He turned the tables on Ethiopia, saying it may have been used as a rear base for the Mombasa attacks.

"It's just as likely that the weapons used for the attack in Mombasa came from Ethiopia, because Ethiopia too has a long and porous border with Kenya, and al-Qaeda might operate anywhere."

Mr Abdulkassim appealed to the international community not to be misled by the "wrongful allegations" of Ethiopia which, he said, "keeps pursuing its hidden agenda against Somalia".

"Our country is open for the international community to come and do whatever investigations they need to carry out, and I pledge my government will fully collaborate with them."


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03 Dec 02 | Africa
30 Nov 02 | Africa
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