Africa

Somali diplomat in Kenya 'denied immunity'

  • 31 January 2014
  • From the section Africa
Eastleigh in Nairobi, Kenya
Image caption The security operation in Nairobi has centred on the suburb of Eastleigh

A Somali diplomat in Kenya has been held in detention for more than a week, Somalia's ambassador has told the BBC.

Ilyas Yusuf Warsame, a secretary of the Somali embassy in the capital, Nairobi, is currently "under interrogation".

Ambassador Mohamed Ali America said he had complained to the Kenyan authorities, who had said Mr Warsame did not have immunity as he was Kenyan.

The arrest comes amid a security crackdown in Nairobi, amid warnings of a possible terror attack.

Last September, Somalia's al-Shabab group attacked a Nairobi shopping centre in which at least 67 people died.

'Fake passports'

Mr Ali America told the BBC Somali Service that he had visited his colleague several times since his arrest on 23 January, but despite his official complaint, Mr Warsame is still being held.

On Friday, Kenyan police said they had arrested hundreds of foreigners suspected to be in the country illegally.

The searches over the last few weeks have concentrated on the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh, known as "Little Mogadishu", where many Kenyan-Somalis and Somalis live.

''Every day close to 50 people are arrested by police. Some are questioned and released while some end up in the police station," Abdille Guidow, a Kenyan of Somali origin, told the BBC, alleging some officers demand money to release those detained.

But the police have defended their action, saying only people who are suspected to be members of a terrorist group are arrested.

Correspondents say that over the last two decades during the civil war in Somalia, it has been possible for those who fled to Kenya to illegally obtain identity documents, at a price, to allow them to live and work more easily in Kenya.

The BBC's Robert Kiptoo in Nairobi says earlier this week, nine people, including a police officer working at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and an airline employee, were arrested for being in possession of fake passports and visa seals.

On Thursday, various embassies in Kenya issued an alert warning of a possible terrorist attack.

In recent days, security has been intensified at the airport, leading to long queues.

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