SOMALIA: Five arrested over threats to NGO workers
De-mining in Somaliland: Five people have been arrested for allegedly threatening officials of an NGO that carries out de-mining activities
HARGESIA, 18 August 2008 (IRIN) - Five people have been arrested in Somalia's self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland after they allegedly threatened officials of an NGO that carries out de-mining activities.
In one incident on 16 August, four people in a truck forced a vehicle carrying officials of Halo Trust off the road. In the second incident on the same day, a man went to the Halo Trust offices in Hargeisa, the capital, and tried to assault an official.
Ahmed Mohamed Gas, logistics officer for Halo Trust, told IRIN that the NGO’s officials were returning to the capital from Waddo Geel Road, 8km south of Arabsiyo village in the newly established region of Gabiley west of Hargeisa, when the attempt was made.
"We had been to Waddo Geel where we held meetings with the residents on the de-mining of that road; when we reached Arabsiyo centre, we stopped to buy something in a shop and a truck, nicknamed 'Shambo Hayran' passed us," Gas said. "We then drove after it and when we tried to overtake it, the people in it turned the truck towards our car, forcing our driver, Hassan Kosar, to go off the road and hit some trees along the road."
He said the truck then left the scene despite efforts to stop it. The same thing was repeated further up the road after the NGO vehicle got back on the road.
"Finally, there was a third attempt by the same truck at about 12:30pm when it got to Abarso [20km west of Hargeisa], this time the men came out and even slapped us around; we chose to downplay the incident in order to save ourselves and we drove off," Gas said.
Later, at the Halo Trust offices in Hargeisa, Gas said, he was called out by a man who had driven into the compound and asked to speak to an official of the NGO.
|Somaliland police said they were investigating the incidents |
"As I was speaking to the man, a truck drove towards us and suddenly stopped near us, someone come out carrying a thick stick and tried to beat hit me on the head but I blocked it using my hand, seriously injuring it, then the police came and arrested the men in the truck," Gas said.
He said two of the men arrested were involved in the earlier incidents when the first truck attempted to drive them off the road.
"After they were arrested we identified them as part of a group of people who attempted to steal scrap metal from our [Halo Trust] garage in mid March 2008," Gas added.
Somaliland police said they were investigating the incidents.
Between 2002 and 2004, at least five foreign nationals were killed in Somaliland, four of whom were working for aid organisations. At least 15 people were arrested over the deaths and some of them were sentenced to death or long prison sentences.