HARGEISA, Somalia, Jan 25, 1996 (Reuter) - Somaliland authorities, saying mysterious explosions over northwest Somalia have made people fall ill and animals behave strangely, want the world to investigate reports that Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) are tracking the breakaway state.
The government of the self-declared republic of Somaliland says two explosions in the sky from UFOs were heard in December in the port city of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden and Sol and Sanaag regions to the east and southeast.
"We want the international community urgently to launch a comprehensive investigation into these explosions and what they are doing," a government minister told Reuters on Wednesday.
A report from a mission sent to southeast Somaliland by the government, which has received no international recognition since it was formed in 1991, said animals behaved strangely after the explosions last month and some residents fell sick.
U.N. aid agency staff who visited two regions in southeast Somaliland said from residents' accounts they had no doubt that the explosions had taken place and were heard over a wide area.
But they said it was unclear what had caused them and they could find no evidence they harmed people, especially children.
Somaliland broke away from the rest of Somalia as it slid into famine, chaos and clan warfare after the overthrow of late president Mohamed Siad Barre.
Northwest Somalia, particularly Sol and Sanaag, is a vast barren, rocky desert with thorn trees as virtually the only vegetation. Half its population are nomads, usually on the move with camels, cattle and goats searching for grazing and water.
In its report, the government team said "a frightening thunder-like noise" was heard in the Sanaag, Berbera and Sol regions at 7 a.m. on December 5 and 7 p.m. on December 7.
"A few days after the explosions inhabitants of the areas visited came down with various abnormal coughing, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties and headaches. The most affected group were children and several were reported to have died," it said.
"Animals in the area showed unusual behaviour of restlessness, irritability and weakness," the report added.
It said the mission's investigation indicated the health problems in humans and animals were related to the explosions.
"A pronounced increase was noticed in the deaths of children, particularly those under three years old," it added.
The team's preliminary report quoted several witnesses including Ahmed Yusuf Dualeh from the town of Ceel Afweyne. It said he was "a very reliable person" and expert in explosives.
Dualeh said he saw an aircraft at low altitude flying over the town from the northwest on both dates in December and then heard a deafening explosion that shook the ground and his home.
The government is opposed by two sub-clan militias but the most technically-advanced large weapons they have are tanks dating from the 1940s and 1950s and small anti-tank rockets.
Other witnesses said they saw a flying object with smoke trailing from it. The report said villagers in Adhiadye and Garadag reported a sudden increase of disease after the booms.
"After the explosions, animals were noticed running wild and uncontrolled with some tearing at trees," the report said.
The government mission offered some possible explanations for the blasts including a satellite re-entering the earth's atmosphere, a meteorite or a plane breaking the sound barrier.
But it said the most likely explanation was "detonation of a missile booster" because no debris were seen falling from the sky and gases were reported seen burning in various colours.
"No physical manifestation of fallen objects or fragments of the exploded material was found in the ground. No evidence of damage to ground structures, such as the creation of a crater or soil disturbance, caused by a foreign body was observed," said the team, adding its investigation was limited.
Original file name: .CNI - Explosion UFO.Somalia
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