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Swedes reported dead in Somalia

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09:57 CET+01:00
A number of Swedish citizens are reported to have been killed in fighting in Somalia. The Swedes in question had joined Islamist militias in their battle with the country's interim government, a spokesman for the government, Abdirahman Dinari, told Sveriges Radio.

Dinari's account follows a number of previously unconfirmed reports suggesting that several Swedish citizens had been captured by the interim government.

"They came, they participated and we have seen their documents. Some of them have fallen. We are on the trail of several of them, while others are in prison. They were arrested when trying to cross the border to Kenya," said Dinari.

The government spokesman would not say how many Swedes had been killed or imprisoned. Since it has not collated all the relevant information, the Somali government has yet to inform Swedish authorities on the number of casualties and arrests.

"We have been hearing rumours like this for a long time but nothing has been confirmed," said foreign ministry press officer Nina Ersman.

Confirming such rumours is rendered difficult by the fact that Sweden, in common with all other EU countries, does not have an embassy in Somalia.

Figures presented by the Swedish embassy in neighbouring Kenya suggest that there are at least 125 Swedes in Somalia but such data may be unreliable, according to the foreign ministry

"We have no official figures. It is entirely impossible to make this kind of judgment," said Ersman.

"We have been advising people for a long time not to travel to Somalia, since we do not have any representation there. We have also encouraged anybody already in the country to leave," she added.

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