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Kazakh Company Denies Shipping Arms To Somalia

(RFE/RL) August 9, 2006 -- A private Kazakh air carrier today denied allegations that at least one of its cargo planes recently delivered weapons to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Vladimir Kuropatenko, the head of Sayakhat, told reporters that the allegations are "slander and sheer lies." He also threatened to sue those behind the allegations.

Government officials in Somalia last month claimed that one or two Ilyushin-76 cargo planes bearing Kazakh identification marks had landed at Mogadishu from Eritrea with loads of weapons of unknown origin. Both Eritrea and the Somali Islamists have denied the reports.

Mogadishu is currently controlled by Islamist forces.

Some Kazakh media have suggested the planes may have belonged to Sayakhat.

The Kazakh government on August 6 denied any knowledge of weapons deliveries to Mogadishu, saying it abides by the UN-sponsored arms embargo on Somalia.

(Kazakhstan Today, Interfax-Kazakhstan)

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