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Somali Warlord Arrested in Kenya


Kenyan authorities arrested Abdul Rashid Hussein Shiry, a Somali warlord, Wednesday for violating a ban on travel to Kenya by Somali warlords and their associates.

Police spokesman Gideon Kibunja describes to VOA the incident that occurred at a high-class hotel in Nairobi Wednesday.

"A person was taken from Grand Regency Hotel," he said. "He was taken by immigration people. It is not known whether they have deported him or whether they are holding him."

Kibunja says he suspects that Abdul Rashid Hussein Shiry will likely be deported back to Somalia.

The arrest follows a travel ban the Kenyan government imposed Tuesday against all Somali warlords and their associates.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said the Kenyan government "will not permit its territory to be used by those who persist in destabilizing Somalia and undermining our on-going efforts to restore peace and security in that country."

In recent months, the Somali capital Mogadishu has been rocked by fierce fighting between militias loyal to the Islamic courts and a group of warlords known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism.

More than 300 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured during the conflict. Earlier this week, the Islamic courts claimed to take control of Mogadishu.

On Sunday, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi fired four ministers - Mohamed Afrah Qanyare, Musa Sudi Yalahow, Issa Botan Alin, and Omar Muhamoud Finnish - for their role in the fighting as members of the so-called anti-terrorism alliance.

Although the Kenyan government did not specify in its statement the specific warlords who are banned from entering Kenya, it is widely believed that the ban applies to those four former ministers, along with Bashir Raghe Shirar, Abdi Awale Qeydid, and others.

John Koech is Kenya's minister of east African and regional cooperation who was involved in the final stages of a two-year Somali peace process held in Kenya that chose the current transitional government.

He explains to VOA why the travel ban was imposed.

"These warlords have a lot of businesses in Kenya, and there is the proceeds from the businesses to cause chaos in Somalia," he said. "I believe very strongly the warlords should be dealt with very harshly by the international community. With no peace in Somalia, the neighboring countries continue to have a lot of problems."

Ever since civil war broke out in 1991, militias loyal to clan and sub-clan-based factions have controlled different parts of the country, with no central authority to provide law and order and even basic services to the population.

A transitional Somali parliament was formed in Kenya more than a year ago following the peace process.