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Somalia recalls envoy to Kenya over diplomat arrest

Somalia's deputy foreign minister, Mahad Mohamed Salad, said the recall was temporary/FILE

Somalia’s deputy foreign minister, Mahad Mohamed Salad, said the recall was temporary/FILE

MOGADISHU, Apr 28 – Somalia has temporarily recalled its ambassador to Kenya following the arrest and alleged harassment of one of its diplomats in Nairobi, officials said Monday.

The diplomatic protest comes amid an ongoing crackdown in Kenya against suspected militants that has also seen thousands of Somalis and ethnic Somalis detained by Kenyan police and dozens of them deported.

“I was called in Mogadishu by the government to give an explanation regarding the harassment and arrest made against Somali diplomat by the Kenyan police in Nairobi,” the ambassador, Mohamed Ali Nur, told reporters in Mogadishu.

“The detention was in complete violation against the diplomatic rights of a country and could damage the relations between the two countries,” he added.

Somalia’s deputy foreign minister, Mahad Mohamed Salad, said the recall was temporary, and parliament speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari said deputies would also briefed by the ambassador on the crackdown.

“This is an opportunity for the parliament to hear about the problems facing the Somali people in Kenya and the arrest of the Somali diplomat,” he said.

Officials identified the arrested diplomat as working in the embassy’s consular department. It was not immediately clear if the diplomat was still being detained, and there were no details on the circumstances of the arrest.

Earlier this month Kenyan authorities launched mass round-ups of foreigners, saying they needed to weed out sympathisers of Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels following a string of militant attacks.

The operation has focussed on Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate, and residents have accused police of indiscriminately arresting people of Somali origin.

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Somalia’s Shabaab rebels claimed responsibility for the attack last year on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi which left at least 67 dead, and recent weeks have seen a string of attacks blamed on Islamists in the capital and near the coastal city of Mombasa.

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