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KENYA

Norwegian aid worker abducted in Kenya

Gunmen kidnapped four foreign aid workers and killed their driver on Friday in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp complex near the border with war-torn Somalia, police and officials said.

The four, who work with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), come from Canada, Norway, Pakistan and the Philippines, regional police official Philip Ndolo told AFP.

"Four foreign aid workers were kidnapped… their Kenyan driver died later while receiving treatment at a local hospital," Ndolo said, clarifying earlier reports that he had also been kidnapped.

Military helicopters and police chased the gunmen, who drove off with the hostages in their vehicle. It was later found abandoned, with fears the gang are heading towards Somalia, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Dadaab.

"We have dispatched military helicopters to pursue the kidnappers," Kenyan army spokesman Cyrus Oguna told AFP.

"The vehicle was found abandoned 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Daadab, and we believe the party is still within Kenyan borders, and the captives and their kidnappers are on foot," he added.

NRC is working to support some 465,000 inhabitants in the Dadaab complex, which constitutes Kenya's third-biggest town in size of population.

"A convoy from the Norwegian Refugee Council was involved in an incident in the refugee camp Dadaab," the NRC said in a statement, adding that its head Elisabeth Rasmusson had been travelling with the convoy but was unhurt and safe.

Medical officials with the German government aid agency GIZ said two other people were wounded in the attack, which took place in the sprawling Ifo 2 camp around midday.

The kidnapping is the latest in a series of attacks in the giant Dadaab complex, where gunmen last October seized two Spaniards working for Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut.

They are still being held hostage in Somalia.

The kidnapping of the Spaniards was one of the incidents that spurred Kenya to send troops and tanks into Somalia to fight the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgents Nairobi blames for abductions as well as for cross-border raids.

Al-Shabaab still control large parts of southern Somalia, despite recent losses to African Union troops, government forces and Ethiopian soldiers, who have wrested several key bases from the insurgents.

Kenya, which invaded southern Somalia in October before joining the AU force, has a heavy troop presence some 120 kilometres into Somalia from their frontier.

Since the 1991 ouster of then president Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia has been variously governed by ruthless warlords and militia groups, each controlling their own limited fiefdoms.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled their lawless nation to neighbouring nations since the collapse of a formal government two decades ago, while crippling drought racked the region last year.

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SOMALIA

‘Strip new Somali PM of his Norwegian passport’: Progress

Norway’s anti-immigration Progress Party has called for Somalia’s new Prime Minister to be stripped of his Norwegian passport, arguing that a country’s leader should not have multiple nationalities.

'Strip new Somali PM of his Norwegian passport': Progress
Hassan Ali Khaire gave a video address after his appointment. Photo: Mraazaa/Wikimedia Commons
Somalia's new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, announced Hassan Ali Khaire's appointment over Twitter on Thursday, just a day after he was inaugurated. 
 
Khaire, 46, who came to Norway as a refugee in the late 80s, has like most of his compatriots taken advantage of an exemption Norway gives Somalis from its ban on dual citizenship. 
 
Mazyar Keshvari, the Progress Party’s immigration spokesman has argued that Khaire's appointment as his country's leader removed any justification for his dual citizenship. 
 
“He should be deprived of his Norwegian passport,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.  “A country's prime minister cannot have multiple nationalities. If conflicts occur, where they will their loyalties lie?” 
 
The appointment of Khaire, who has degrees from the University of Oslo and the University of Edinburgh, marks a major step forward in Somalia’s attempt to establish a functioning government following 25 years of civil war and failed government. 
 
Khaire, a former regional director for the Norwegian Refugee Council and later an executive with London’s Soma Oil and Gas, is seen as a capable administrator. 
 
But Keshvari suggested it might be time to end the special treatment of Somali citizens, particularly those who take senior positions in the country’s emerging government. 
 
“When someone has been appointed a Member of Parliament and even the Prime Minister of Somalia, we have to assume that they are Somali nationals,” he said.  
 
“The fact that he has now become Prime Minister clearly shows that his need for protection should be seen as temporary and not permanent in nature.” 
 
Dual citizenship is permitted by most countries in Europe, including Norway’s neighbours Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, but it is banned in Norway. 
 
Norway’s Green Party has proposed that Norway follow Denmark, which passed a dual citizenship bill in December 2014.
 
In February 2016, a leaked memo sent by a UN watchdog to diplomats in the UK and Norway, revealed that Khaire was under investigation by UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for possible ties to extremist groups in East Africa, including al-Shabaab. 
 
The SFO's enquiry was closed in December 2016, 
 
“The SFO has concluded, based on the information and material we have obtained, that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction,” an SFO spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.