MOGADISHU, Somalia – The United Arab Emirates is condemning what it calls an "illegal" move by Somalia to seize $9.6 million from an aircraft at the Mogadishu airport.
The UAE's state news agency, WAM, says 47 Emirati Armed Forces personnel were on board the plane and some were held at gunpoint and assaulted by Somali security forces. WAM reports that the money was allocated to support the Somali army and trainees.
"The UAE deplores this violation of international law and norms at a time when the UAE has provided all kinds of political, economic, military and humanitarian support in the darkest conditions to establish security and stability in the Somali Federal Republic," the statement from the foreign ministry carried on WAM said.
Somalia's government has dismissed such reports and has not responded publicly to the UAE's condemnation. It announced the seizure Sunday, saying security forces boarded the plane and discovered three unmarked bags of cash during routine checks. A security ministry statement said the bags were full of U.S. dollars and an investigation was under way to determine why they had been smuggled into the country.
Relations between Somalia and the UAE have been strained since the oil-rich Gulf country's Dubai-owned DP World port operator began operating a major port in Somalia's breakaway territory of Somaliland last year. The UAE also has invited Somaliland officials for state visits and is building a military base there, suggesting that the country is moving toward recognizing Somaliland's independence.
Associated Press writer Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed.