Somalia: Puntland insists on probe into alleged Qatar role in bombing

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The recent bombshell New York Times report on Qatari complicity in an extremist attack in Somalia has raised eyebrows in the Horn of Africa country, Garowe Online reports.

Mohamed Abdirahman, a senior Security advisor to the President of Puntland, Said Abdullahi Deni said the state still insists to pursue a credible investigation into the audio recording that obtained by the NYT.

The report revealed that the bomb blast went off on May 10 near the main court in Bosaso was carried out to advance Qatar’s interests by trying to driving out UAE. DP World manages the city’s main seaport.

The terrorist attack claimed by homegrown Islamic State (ISIS) affiliated group based in Bari region has left at least ten people wounded.

“The NYT report that alleges that Qatar was involved in Bosaso bombing can’t be ignored and Puntland president Said Abdullahi Deni has called on the Federal Government of Somalia to look into the allegations,” said Abdirahman while speaking to VOA Somalia’s Friday debate.

Last month, New York Times reported that it has possession of an audio recording of a mobile phone conversation in which a businessman Khalifa Kayed al-Muhanadi told Qatari Ambassador Hassan in Mogadishu Bin Hamza Hashem “Qataris were behind the bombing”.

“The NYT is a big media outlet with worldwide influence, its report triggered suspicion since the newspaper says it obtained evidence concerning Bosaso bombing,” said the security adviser.

“So far Puntland state has not pointed the finger of blame at Qatar, but, calls for an urgent probe into the New York Times report and we are still in that position,” Abdirahman added.

Qatar’s government refuted the Times’ story and noted it was not given the audio recording by the newspaper after requesting it. Somali Foreign Affairs Ministry backed up Doha’s assertion.

In June 2017, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and other allied states cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over its support for terrorism. Doha has rejected all allegations.

Asked by the VOA Somali Service about the Gulf crisis spilling into Somalia, President Deni’s security adviser replied: “It’s up to the local leaders to preserve and protect the country’s sovereignty while dealing with the foreign nations”.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said last Tuesday it is unfortunate that Qatar is using terrorism against his country’s investment interest in Somalia.

With close geographic, political, economic and cultural ties with the Gulf, analysts warn Somalia is facing heightened instability as countries come under pressure to pick sides while Arab powers jockey for political influence.

The Horn of Africa country has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of former President Siad Barre’s military regime which ushered in decades of anarchy and bloody conflict.