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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:07, June 08, 2006
Canada says report of troops abduction false
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Canada said on Wednesday reports that some of its troops in Afghanistan had been abducted had turned out to be false.

An investigation found all the Canadian troops had been accounted for, said a government spokeswoman.

Al-Jazeera television earlier quoted Taliban sources as saying the group had abducted an unspecified number of Canadian soldiers.

Canada has 2,300 troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Source: Xinhua where he will connect another flight to London," an aide, who answered Shire's telephone, said.

Shire, also a prominent businessman, who has been in the country since last week, is said to be a member of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT), which was ousted from Mogadishu on Sunday by forces loyal to the city's Islamic courts.

His arrest came barely a day after Kenya slapped a travel ban on Somali warlords involved in bloody clashes with Islamic militia.

Shire, a banana and fish exporter with shipping and communications interests, owns Mogadishu's Sahafi Hotel, which had served as a base for the ARPCT battling Islamic militia.

The hotel has been captured by Islamists in fierce fighting with the alliance.

The Kenyan government said the faction leaders were undermining efforts by the fledgling transitional administration to restore stability to Somalia.

Kenya's special envoy for Somalia peace process Bethuel Kiplagat, who was the chief mediator during the Somali reconciliation conference in Nairobi, said the decision to ban the warlords from visiting the country would have little effect on the political situation in Somalia because most of them have already been discredited at home.

"They have already been discredited by the majority of the people. They spoilt the transitional government that was very delicately negotiated here in Nairobi. They should have discussed with the government," Kiplagat said.

Kenya's Ambassador to Somalia Mohammed Affey said Kenya was only interested in strengthening the fledgling government and was determined to hinder any efforts to scuttle that process.

Kenya hosted the two-year protracted negotiations that brought together Somalia's numerous factions and finally produced the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004,

"The underlying fact is that we want a strong, credible government in Somalia, and we will discourage those who instigate trouble and then come here to recuperate when the going gets tough, " the ambassador said by telephone.

"Kenya invested heavily in the process of establishing a government for Somalia, and we will help only those forces that want stability in Somalia," Affey added.

"The government would like to reiterate its previously stated positions that it will not permit its territory to be used by those who persist in destabilizing Somalia and undermine our ongoing efforts to restore peace and security in that country," said a statement issued by Kenyan Foreign Ministry.

However, the statement did not name the warlords or associates affected by the ban, but Kenyan authorities said it targeted members of the ARPCT, who were sacked by Somalia's interim Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi on Sunday.

They include: National Security Minister Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, Commerce Minister Musa Sudi Yalahow, Militia Rehabilitation Minister Issa Botan Alin and Religious Affairs Minister Omar Muhamoud Finnish.

The transitional government, based in Baidoa, 250 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, has been working with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union and the international community to develop a national security and stabilization plan.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Moses Wetang'ula said his country had invested a lot in the Somali provisional government and would not like it to be undermined.

Wetang'ula said Kenya, which chairs IGAD grouping seven Eastern African countries including Somalia, wanted to address some security issues in Somalia by imposing the ban.

"The provisional government in Somalia is our baby, we have spent money, time and other resources in it. We cannot have a few warlords spoiling that," he said.

"From today on they are persona non grata (prohibited immigrants) in this country...if they are found, they will face the consequences," he added.

On Monday, after months of fighting that has killed around 350 people, the Islamic militia claimed control of Mogadishu and a warlord militiaman said his coalition's leaders were fleeing the capital.

US President George W. Bush has expressed concern about the fall of most of Mogadishu to Islamist forces, saying Washington would ensure Somalia does not become a haven for terrorists.

"Obviously when there's instability anywhere in the world we're concerned. There is instability in Somalia," Bush said on Tuesday.

"First concern of course would be to make sure that Somalia does not become an al-Qaeda safe haven, doesn't become a place from which terrorists plot and plan," he added.

The US was accused of backing the warlords but has neither confirmed nor denied the persistent reports.

Experts say U.S. intelligence has produced no conclusive evidence of an active al Qaeda presence in Somalia.

But there have been reports of al Qaeda members in the country, including suspects in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa.

Americans have bad memories of U.S. involvement in Somalia in 1993, when 18 U.S. soldiers were killed and 79 injured in a battle with guerrillas loyal to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aideed after entering the country to support a relief effort.

Somalia, one of the world's poorest countries about the size of Texas with a population of some 8 million on the east coast of Africa, has been without a functioning government ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime in 1991.

Currently Mogadishu is the only capital in the world where the UN does not have access for international humanitarian staff, due to insecurity, despite an estimated 250,000 internally displaced living in the city.

The aid community is especially concerned over the delay in the polio and measles immunization campaigns.

Source: Xinhua


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