Somali officials are said to have stopped a plane from the United Arab Emirates from leaving the country after Emirati military trainers on board refused to hand over their luggage to be scanned and searched.
The local news website Mareeg reported on Saturday that Somali officials at Bosaso airport insisted that the “heavy bags” on the flight be checked, resulting in an hours-long standoff.
It added that talks were under way between Somali’s semiautonomous Puntland region and the UAE to end the dispute.
The UAE foreign ministry has not commented on the matter.
The news comes just days after Somalia‘s government seized several bags of money carrying almost $10m from a plane that arrived at Mogadishu airport from Abu Dhabi.
The money was found in three unmarked bags on a Royal Jet plane, the Somali interior ministry said, adding it was investigating where it came from, where it was going and the individuals involved.
“The security forces noticed the suspicious bags and handed them over to the concerned departments,” Somalia’s security ministry said in a statement.
Responding to the Somali action, the UAE had accused the security forces of holding those on the plane “at gunpoint”, and said the cash had been allocated to support the Somali army and trainees.
“The current Somali government … is creating unnecessary tensions with a friend and an ally who supported the stability and security of Somalia during its hardest phases,” Anwar Gargash, UAE’s junior minister for foreign affairs, said on Twitter.
“We call for wisdom and reason”.
Relations between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi have been frosty since June last year after Mogadishu resisted UAE and Saudi pressure to cut ties with Qatar following a dispute between the Gulf neighbours.
Somalia said it was neutral in the GCC diplomatic rift.
And last month, Abu Dhabi agreed to train security forces in Somaliland – a region in northern Somalia seeking secession from the rest of the country.
The UAE has also signed with Somaliland a 30-year concession to manage the semiautonomous northern region’s Berbera port.
Somalia has dismissed the agreement and called on the UN to take action.
Speaking at the UN Security Council last month, Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the agreement between Somaliland and the UAE to establish the base in Berbera is a “clear violation of international law”.
Osman called on the Security Council to “take the necessary steps” to “put an end to these actions”.
“The Federal Government of Somalia strongly condemns these blatant violations, and reaffirms that it will take the necessary measures deriving from its primary responsibility to defend the inviolability of the sovereignty and the unity of Somalia,” he said.