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Kenya government recalls envoy from Somalia
over controversial auction of oil off-shore blocs

NAIROBI Somalia (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Saturday night recalled its ambassador to Somalia after Mogadishu auctioned oil blocs in areas also claimed by Nairobi.

Macharia Kamau, principal secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Lucas Tumbo, Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia, has been summoned to Nairobi for consultations after oil and gas blocks in disputed territorial areas were auctioned to Britain.

He said Somalia "carelessly" ignored internationally accepted norms of boundary disputes resolution as well as political and diplomatic disagreements.

Kamau also said Mogadishu has sadly demonstrated that it has not yet attained and embraced political maturity and diplomatic stance of a normal, well-adjusted and properly functioning modern government.

He described the move by Somalia to auction oil and gas blocks in disputed territory as "tragic and regretful" and added it has severely undermined the existing cordial and brotherly relations between the two countries.

The Kenyan official said it is regrettable that despite Kenya’s efforts to assist Somalia in regaining its footing after years of civil war, it has chosen to act otherwise.

He said Kenya now plans to move to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek redress on the matter.

Somalia has so far not yet responded to Kenya’s move to recall the ambassador.

Kenya and Somalia have been involved in a maritime border dispute for years. Kenya claimed it has long considered the maritime border to go along the parallel of latitude, whereas Somalia wants it to continue along the line of its land border, citing international sea laws.

The disputed triangular area off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean covers some 100,000 square km.

The dispute was taken to the ICJ by Somalia in 2014.

Kenya has contested the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case and to the admissibility of the suit on the basis of a 2009 agreement between the two countries that the dispute would be resolved through negotiation.

The auction of oil blocs in disputed areas by Somalia reportedly took place in London on Feb. 7.


Somalia denies auctioning oil blocs in dispute areas with Kenya

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Somali government said it has not auctioned any oil blocks in disputed maritime zones to external bidders as claimed by Kenya, in a move to diffuse a diplomatic spate between the two neighbors.

The foreign ministry said Mogadishu has no plans to do so until the maritime dispute is decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

"Somalia is not now offering, nor does it have any plans to offer, any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the Parties’ maritime boundary is decided by the ICJ," the ministry said in a statement issued on Sunday evening.

The Somali government, in its measured response to Kenya, also urged Nairobi not to undertake unilateral activities in disputed area until the ICJ renders its judgment.

The statement comes after Kenya on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Somalia, accusing Mogadishu of auctioning oil blocs belonging to Nairobi.

Macharia Kamau, the Kenyan foreign affairs principal secretary, summoned Lucas Tumbo, Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia, for "urgent consultations" in Nairobi, after oil and gas blocks in what were believed to be disputed territorial areas were auctioned in London on Feb. 7.

"This unparalleled affront and illegal grab at the resources of Kenya will not go unanswered and is tantamount to an act of aggression against the people of Kenya and their resources," Kamau told journalists in Nairobi.

Kamau also described the move by Somalia to auction oil and gas blocks in disputed territory as "tragic and regretful."

He said action taken by Somalia to sell the oil blocs has severely undermined the existing cordial and brotherly relations, and compromised half a century’s worth of dedication and cooperation between the two countries.

Kamau also instructed the Somali Ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Ahmed Nur to depart to Somalia for "consultation."

Somalia, however, said it regretted Kenya’s decision to instruct her ambassador to depart Kenya without prior consultation.

"Somalia also wishes to reassure Kenya that when the ICJ does render its judgment, Somalia will fully respect and comply therewith," the ministry said.

The oil and gas blocks in the disputed area are estimated to be 100,000 square km.

The case before the ICJ was filed in August 2014 by Somalia after Mogadishu said it had exhausted all diplomatic negotiations.

The case is still waiting for submissions by the two parties to the dispute.

The ministry said Somalia is committed to "continuing to work hard in close cooperation with its brothers and sisters in Kenya to address pressing issues confronting both nations and the region."


Senior al-Shabab commander killed in southwestern Somalia: military

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali National Army (SNA) killed a senior al-Shabab commander in an operation in Bakol region in southwestern Somalia, officials said on Sunday.

Warsame Mahamed Diriye, commander of SNA section 60’s unit nine, told journalists that they had killed a senior al-Shabab leader in an operation conducted on Friday afternoon in the vicinity of Shidle in the country’s southern region of Bakol.

"Our forces killed Aliyow Iman Ibrahim who was a prominent operational commander of al-Shabab extremist in a routine offensive in Bakol region.

A member of his staffs also injured in the operation," the commander said.

He added that one of his soldiers sustained injury during the operation. Residents said they heard the sound of gun fire.

"Somali forces attacked al-Shabab militants in the town; there was a huge gunfire in the area," Said Haji, a resident, told Xinhua.

Somali forces backed by African Union Mission in Somalia intensified operations on al-Shabab extremists in central and southern Somalia, conducting consecutive offensives to drive the militants out of these regions.

Al-Qaida affiliated group al-Shabab did not comment on the latest incident.

Kenyan police question Australian over rounds of ammunition

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police said Saturday they are questioning an Australian national after being found in possession of rounds of ammunition at an apartment in Nairobi.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said they received complaints about Benjamin Gsull from the public and launched investigations.

"Police had earlier received complaints of attempted housebreaking and were carrying out investigations when they discovered him in the footage," DCI said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

"Upon searching his house (he stays in the same apartment) rounds of ammunitions and other substances believed to be bhang were found," DCI said.

The suspect is to be charged with being in possession of ammunition and an unlicensed firearm without a certificate, being in Kenya illegally after failing to register as a foreign national, among other offences.



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