Britons in Somaliland have been told that they must leave the country as soon as possible due to an ‘imminent threat’ to their security in the African state.
The UK foreign office issued a warning to any British nationals still residing in the area to make arrangements for their departure from the ‘breakaway’ state of Somaliland.
Somalia’s history has been blighted by decades of warring factions, failed governments, Islamic insurgence and drought, making the region a hotbed of criminal activity. The northern region of Somaliland broke away from the state of Somalia in 1991 after overthrowing then president Siad Barre, the head of the last national working government in Somalia.A Foreign Office spokesman told the press:
“We are now aware of a specific threat to Westerners in Somaliland, and urge any British nationals who remain there against our advice to leave immediately.”
The presence of UK nationals in Somaliland has been met with a degree of hostility for some time, with reports of criminal and terrorist kidnapping having declared Somaliland a ‘high threat’ area.
Since the death of Osama Bin Laden, terrorist groups known to be operating in the area were also reported to have made threats against the lives of Britons working in Western organisations in Somalia and Somaliland.
“As our travel advice continues to make clear, kidnapping for financial or political gain, motivated by criminality or terrorism, remains a threat throughout Somalia.”
The new level of security has been activated just days after warnings were issued to British nationals in Benghazi of a ‘specific and imminent threat’ to their security in the Libyan city.
In the aftermath of the Algerian gas field hostage crisis earlier this month, which left six British hostages dead, the Foreign Office has been keeping a watchful eye on the progression of hostilities in Somaliland.
British military aid with France’s entry into Mali has also sparked widespread hostility for British nationals, regardless of position. Travellers, local workers and residents have been warned of the risk of indiscriminate attack.
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