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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 15:43 GMT
UN warns of Somalia terror link

By Andrew Harding
BBC East Africa correspondent

United Nations investigators have raised fears of new terror attacks in East Africa, warning that surface-to-air missiles may recently have been smuggled into Somalia for use in neighbouring states.

Paradise Hotel bombing
Somalia has been implicated in last year's attacks in Mombasa
Last November's al-Qaeda attack in Mombasa, Kenya, was organised from Somalia.

The information is contained in a UN report due to come before the Security Council shortly.

The report is detailed and alarming. United Nations investigators say smugglers are using boats and small planes to pour weapons into Somalia.

A key route leads from Yemen. Eight missile systems, perfect for use by terrorists, may well have been brought in this year alone.

The UN believes the shoulder-launched missiles, as well as an anti-tank systems and consignments of explosives, are almost certainly intended for use in neighbouring countries like Kenya.

Speedboats have been used in the past to smuggle weapons down the coast.

Failed state

The UN says Somalia played a key role in last November's al-Qaeda attacks in Mombasa, Kenya. The terrorists used it as a launch pad and escape route.

The reports say at least four members remain in Somalia. Others have returned to Kenya.

The UN report criticises several countries including Ethiopia and Eritrea for failing to cooperate with their investigation.

However, it also says that neighbouring states have started to show greater respect for the international arms embargo on Somalia.

After more than a decade without any government, Somalia remains in the hands of rival warlords and clans. America has singled it out as a key target in its war on terror.

There are reports that CIA agents have visited the country recently, but security sources say it is understood that America has hired local militia groups to snatch and handover terrorist suspects.

Country profile: Somalia
13 Aug 03  |  Country profiles

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