From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Nov 11 2008 - 06:03:35 EST
Somalia: Coastal Villagers Report of Helicopters Hunting Wildlife
Garowe Online (Garowe)
11 November 2008
Coastal villagers in Somalia are increasingly reporting incidents whereby naval forces from unknown foreign countries are actively hunting wildlife in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.
A traditional elder from a village in Mudug region, central Somalia, told the BBC Somali Service recently that local leaders are collecting evidence and eyewitness reports regarding the hunting allegations.
"Three helicopters landed three separate days," said elder Mohamed Hussein Warsame, quoting witnesses and community leaders.
Soldiers jumped out of the helicopters and loaded live animals, including deer and ostriches, the he added. The helicopters then returned to a warship off the coast.
Mr. Warsame said the foreign soldiers used a technique to subdue the animals, some of which are extremely fast and agile.
He indicated that the identity of the warships remained unknown, but that locals have reported seeing the American flag hovering above one of the warships in the distance.
Foreign warships from a number of countries, mainly in the West, are patrolling Somalia's waters in an international anti-piracy campaign.
Since 1991, when the country's last government imploded, Somalia's long and unprotected coastline became subject to illegal practices including overfishing and toxic waste dumping.
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