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Friday, July 31, 2009

Expelled Dutchmen held in Belgium

A Somali guerilla
Hardline Islamist guerrillas have siezed control of Southern Somalia

Four Dutch nationals arrested and expelled by Kenya on suspicion of aiding insurgents in Somalia have been arrested in Belgium.

The 21-year-olds were arrested near the Somali border by Kenyan police who did not believe the four, of Moroccan and Somali origin, were tourists.

The Netherlands authorities have since opened a case against them and want the four men extradited from Belgium.

Hardline Islamists are battling Somalia's UN-backed government.

There have been several recent reports of young men from the US, Europe and South Asia joining the insurgents in a "holy war".

AP news agency reports that two homes in The Hague where the men lived were searched, and prosecutors said they seized "a large number of documents".

In Kenya, Lamu District Commissioner Stephen Ikua told the BBC the four had travelled by boat from Lamu island before hiring a tractor.

map showing areas under Islamist control

The Kenyan authorities say they have arrested and deported several other young men from Tanzania and the United States in the same area for the same reason.

BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says in recent months eyewitnesses in Somalia have reported seeing foreigners amongst the insurgent fighters known as al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab wants to overthrow the UN-backed transitional government in Somalia and put in place strict Islamic law.

The hardline Islamists control much of southern Somalia.

The authorities in Minnesota in the United States are investigating claims that several young men were lured to Somalia to fight.

Since early May, the fighting between the insurgents and the forces loyal to Somalia's government has displaced nearly 250,000 people.

Source: BBC

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