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U.N.: Mercenary soldiers in Somalia

Sept. 4, 2012 at 4:05 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A former South African mercenary now living in Australia is running a private army for the breakaway Somali region of Puntland, the United Nations says.

Lafras Luitingh, who lives in Sydney and became an Australian citizen in 2009, is under investigation by the Somalia Monitoring Group, a U.N. agency, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. U.N. investigators say Luitingh is one of the main backers of Sterling Corporate Services and Saracen, two companies organized by South African mercenaries and involved in equipping a Puntland army.

Matt Bryden, head of the working group, said the companies have provided little information.

"There were a number of large shipments of military assistance for the force, and Saracen never sought to explain what these shipments were for to the monitoring group," he said.

The United Nations has ordered an arms embargo in Somalia in an effort to stabilize the country, where the government essentially fell apart in 1991.

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