Somaliland frees SA men

2010-12-20 14:14

Hargeisa - Somalia's northern breakaway enclave of Somaliland has freed two South Africans who were passengers in a plane that officials say was laden with weapons destined for Puntland, its deputy chief prosecutor said.

Aden Hero Diig told reporters it had been confirmed that the two were journalists and they had been released, a day after Air Transport Minister Mohamed Hashi Abdi said they would be charged with falsely claiming to be journalists.

"They were only passengers and are working for SPA, an American TV station," Diig said. The plane, an Antonov-24, landed in Hargeisa on December 10 on its way to the semi-autonomous region Puntland.

Officials in Hargeisa say Puntland is obtaining arms despite a UN weapons embargo on Somalia, and are concerned that armed groups in Puntland could destabilise Somaliland.