- A new assassination of two international aid workers in Somaliland raises fears of a "concerted effort" with a motive to "destabilise" the not-yet-recognised country. Five Somali citizens have already been detained by Somaliland police in connection with the murder of two aid workers working for Germany's GTZ development agency.
Somalilander journalist Ali Gulaid yesterday informed afrol News about the killing of two aid workers working for the German development agency (GTZ) this weekend. Ms Cheriyote, presumably a Kenyan citizen, and a Somali national were killed while the German citizen Mr Helken was wounded in the ambush, which is to have taken place on Friday on the road between the capital Hargeisa, and the port town of Berbera. The victims of the attack were driving their own car.
According to reports from local media, Somaliland police this weekend has detained five Somali citizens. The five men were trying to cross from Somaliland into Ethiopia, Somaliland's Interior Minister, Ismaaciil Aadan Osman, told the press in Hargeisa.
No further details of the suspected ambushers or their motives were given, but much weight was given to their Somali nationality. Most speculations in Hargeisa support a theory of "destabilisation" attacks on Somaliland ordered from neighbouring Somalia, which is heavily opposing the independence of Somaliland.
Friday's attack on the GTZ workers marks the third attack on foreign aid workers in Somaliland in a little more than half a year. In October last year, Italian aid worker Annalena Tonelli and the wedded British Eyeington couple, both teachers, were assassinated. These attacks come in a sharp contrast to the warm welcome given foreigners by the Hargeisa government and by Somalilanders at large, all desiring a normalisation of foreign relations.
Police sources in Hargeisa indicate their working theory is that the attack on the GTZ workers is connected to last year's unresolved assassinations of the Eyeington couple and Ms Tonelli. Somaliland police are still interrogating the suspected killers.
For Somaliland, an assassination of foreign aid workers is the most devastating attack possible on the country's slow progress in winning international recognition. During the twelve years of de facto independence, one of the Hargeisa government's principal arguments for seeking recognition is its ability to provide peace, stability and economic development in the otherwise war-ravaged region.
While no country so far has recognised Somaliland, more and more international agencies and governments deal openly with the Hargeisa government. The UN and its agencies coordinate most of its Somalia activities from Hargeisa in cooperation with the Somaliland government. Somaliland has entered bilateral cooperation treaties with several European and African governments. The visible sign of these successes is the increased number of international aid workers in Somaliland.
According to Mr Gulaid, the new acts of "terrorism and sabotage" therefore probably have been orchestrated by Somaliland's foreign enemies, namely Somalia's transitional government in Mogadishu and the rival self-declared republic of Puntland, currently occupying parts of eastern Somaliland.
- The phenomenal success Somaliland has achieved has drawn antipathy, animosity and resentment from many sources, Somaliland analyst Gulaid claims. These, he says, were "sources determined to interrupt, and defeat Somaliland's imminent recognition." He adds that the mechanisms used to "undermine and sabotage Somaliland" are now ranging from "discrediting campaign, economic sanctions, political exclusion and outright terrorism."
If the suspicions of Mr Gulaid - which are the central part of one of the Somaliland police's working theories - are correct, the "terrorists" may be about to gain a first victory. Unconfirmed reports from Hargeisa say that the UN is now to evacuate most its international staff from the region as a consequence of the killings.
The killing has prompted the UN to reduce its staff in Somaliland to "essential" international staffers and Somalis only, Pippa Alston, the acting head of the Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB), told the news agency AP today. The SACB is a group for aid organisations working in the country, including the UN and GTZ.
- The SACB sees this most recent tragedy as a continuing serious deterioration in security focused on international aid workers in Somalia, the organisation said in a statement released today, condemning the attack. "The safety of humanitarian aid workers is imperative and such incidents cannot be tolerated. The SACB expects the Somaliland administration to do everything necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice."
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