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US Forces Meddle In Berbera Port Traffic
Berbera, Somaliland, July 14, 2007 (SL Times) – Somaliland National Security Service (SLNSS) impounded a Yemeni registered livestock vessel when it docked at Berbera port on Thursday. The vessel, `MV. Al-Hamsa Hodieda' sailed from Yemen to collect livestock from Berbera and had no cargo when it docked at Berbera port, the regional capital of Sahil region.
Officials of SLNSS arrived direct from the capital, Hargeysa, same day as the Yemeni vessel docked at Berbera and headed straight to the port accompanied by a handful of armed policemen, and immediately began searching the Yemeni vessel. Berbera port authority closed down the port while the search was being conducted on the vessel Al-Hamsa. No traffic or personnel were allowed to enter or leave the port while the search was going on.
According to Ahmed Adan, the Haatuf correspondent in Sahil region, “As soon as the SLNSS people arrived at the port they began to cordon off the vessel Al-Hamsa and prevented those on board the vessel to alight from the ship and the entire port was shutdown by the Berbera port authorities. I managed to sneak into the port, but was eventually spotted by the port security and was escorted out of the port gate'.
Ahmed Adan reported that he was told, when the ship docked at the port, a local businessman who exports livestock to Yemen stepped off the ship which sailed from Yemen and went straight to his Berbera residence. The local man who goes by the nickname `Waranle' was visited at his home by the SLNSS officers soon after they arrived in Berbera, and he was later taken back to the port by the SLNSS officials and boarded the vessel.
Ahmed Adan continued, "Throughout Thursday night the vessel was being searched by Somaliland security/intelligence agents, and by 8 am next morning, the ship, its crew and the local businessman were all cleared by Somaliland security authorities when they could not find anything on the Al-Hamsa."
The Haatuf paper correspondent was later told by one of the SLNSS officials conducting the search who did not want to be named that they received a tip from the US navy that the vessel `Al-Hamsa' was carrying explosives intended for `Al-qadia' and Islamic insurgents operatives active in Southern Somalia and Kenya.
The Haatuf reporter also pointed out that throughout the period the ship was cordoned off by Somaliland's national security, the town sky, its surrounding coastal plains and sea was being visited by an unmarked Hercules AC10 transporter plane, which seemed to be monitoring the Berbera land and sea vicinity and terrain. And this went on right through the night and all day Friday.
"Residents in Berbera were frightened all day and night by this airplane flying at a low altitude, and none of Somaliland's officials can explain what this airplane is doing in our airspace."
Ahmed Adan underscored that the SLNSS official who spoke to him in confidentiality did not know whom the airplane belonged to, and what it was doing in Somaliland’s airspace, but almost everyone believes it belongs to the US forces stationed in Djibouti.
Ahmad Adan also mentioned that two cargo carrying vessels that should have docked at Berbera port early Thursday morning have yet to arrive by Thursday night.
"There is a strong possibility that all incoming sea traffic into Berbera are being held by US navy ships patrolling inside Somaliland international waters, and that the port closure, the vessel Al-Hamsa's impoundment and search, the Hercules AC10 unmarked airplane flying over Somaliland airspace, and the non-arrival of the cargo laden vessels which were supposed to reach Berbera in the early hours of Thursday morning are all interlinked.
No one knows what has prompted the US air and navy to conduct these operations. This is the first time Somaliland authorities were asked to search a vessel inside Berbera, and may also be the first time the US navy has unofficially `blockaded' all sea going traffic destined for the port of Berbera.
Source: Somaliland Times