The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has denounced the seizure of what it described as a civilian aircraft carrying nearly $10m by Somali authorities at Mogadishu airport.
Somalia’s government said on Sunday it had seized several bags of money containing $9.6m in cash from a plane that arrived from the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
According to a statement carried on Tuesday by WAM, the UAE state news agency, the sum was aimed at supporting the Somali military and trainees.
“Money allocated to support the Somali army and trainees was seized at gunpoint by Somali security personnel, who disrespected some members of the UAE forces,” it said.
The money was found in three unmarked bags on a Royal Jet plane, according to the Somali interior ministry, and its seizure resulted in an hours-long standoff between airport officials and UAE embassy staff in Mogadishu.
Royal Jet is an airline based in Abu Dhabi, aimed at the luxury market between the UAE and Europe.
“The seized money is worth $9.6m. Security agencies are currently investigating where the money came from, where it was going, the individuals involved and the reason for bringing money worth this amount into the country,” Somalia’s interior ministry said in a statement late on Sunday.
Relations between Somalia and the UAE have been frosty since June last year.
Mogadishu resisted Emirati and Saudi pressure to cut ties with Qatar following a dispute between the Gulf neighbours. Somalia said it was neutral in the Gulf diplomatic rift.