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Kenya:Kenyan troops off to war + More Related News

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Laaska News Oct. 15,2011
Kenya has declared war on Somalia’s Al-Shabab. 

Photo/JARED NYATAYA/NATION Defence minister Yusuf Mohammed Haji (left) with Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti during a press conference in Harambee House, Nairobi on October 15, 2011.

Kenyan troops off to war

By JOHN NGIRACHU
 Saturday, October 15  2011

The Kenya military has been ordered into action to stop al Shabaab militia from further threatening the country’s security and economy.

At a press briefing on Saturday, the country’s top security chiefs declared war on the terrorist organisation operating from Somalia and said Kenyan security forces will henceforth pursue the aggressors across the border.

“The Kenyan Government has decided to take robust measures to protect and preserve the integrity of the country and the national economy and security,” said a joint statement read by Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti.

He was accompanied by Defence minister Yusuf Haji. Military sources told the Sunday Nation that troops and military hardware had been mobilised to go after the rag tag militia across the border.

Army trucks

The Sunday Nation also learnt that a convoy of army trucks left Nanyuki for Moyale in the morning on Saturday, with the Engineering Unit based there also said to be headed in the same direction as another unit left for Wajir.

Additional war planes were deployed from the Laikipia Air Base to reinforce others that have been in the area for the past one week.

There were reports on Saturday evening that navy soldiers on patrol near Lamu had “taken out” two speedboats carrying combatants who defied orders to stop.

A separate air attack on a village in Ras Kamboni not far from the Kenya-Somalia border thought to have been carried out by American forces was also reported. 

Although Kenya’s armed forces are said to be among the most professionally run in Africa, they have never gone to war in the region and this will be the first time they will go after foreign combatants who have threatened Kenya’s territorial integrity.

The ministers said the movement of al Shabaab closer to the Kenyan border had brought with it the risk of terrorist attacks on Kenyan soil and asked citizens to be vigilant.

Prof Saitoti gave a chronology of provocative actions by the militia, including the killing of a tourist in Lamu, and abductions of tourists and humanitarian aid workers.

The minister said the government had taken specific measures to enhance security for its citizens and visitors.

The steps include increased surveillance at the Coast and border points with special emphasis on tourist locations, additional boats patrolling the Indian Ocean and the adoption of a joint plan with hotels to enhance response to any threats.

Prof Saitoti said Kenya had a right to self-defence, adding that the Constitution and the UN Charter were clear on the defence of borders.

“We are ready to take any necessary action to preserve our territorial integrity,” Prof Saitoti declared.

He said the government had invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which pronounces self-defence as an inherent right, meaning the country can do whatever is necessary to keep its borders secure.

“If you are attacked by an enemy, you have the right to pursue that enemy right where he is … they (al Shabaab) will be pursued,” Mr Haji said.

“The military is capable of dealing with any situation on the border. We are prepared to take you to go and see that the army is prepared to keep al Shabaab away from our border,” said Mr Haji.

The minister said Kenya plans to establish a homeland security outfit to better protect her interests.

Prof Saitoti said Somali refugees at Dadaab camp would be subjected to screening as there are suspected al Shabaab sympathisers residing there. There are currently 525,000 refugees in the camp, making it the biggest in the world.

“We have now closed the border, and we have no apology as far as that is concerned,” the minister said.

Intelligence officers were following up reports of Kenyan youth being recruited by the al Shabaab, which is said to have widened its operations base upcountry.

It is understood that the military intends to move into Somalia and create a buffer zone with the lawless country to avoid cross-border incursions by the militia that is linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network.

Military sources traced the upsurge in militia activity to August 12, 2011 when al Shabaab vanished from Mogadishu overnight, following a sustained assault by Unisom forces and those of the Somalia Transitional Government.

“Some of them moved towards the north but a majority moved southwards towards the Kenyan border,” the source said.

Since then militia members have been involved in attacks on Kenyan security personnel in Mandera and other border towns, including the abduction of two Kenyan soldiers.

The ministers spoke ahead of a meeting with the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee of Parliament tomorrow, which is concerned about the increased insecurity at the border.

Article 51 of the UN Charter says:

“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.

Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Additional reporting by Mwangi Ndirangu

Kenya declares war on Al Shabaab
 
Photo/JARED NYATAYA/NATION Defence minister Yusuf Mohammed Haji (left) with Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti during a press conference in Harambee House, Nairobi on October 15, 2011.

Kenya has declared war on Somalia’s Al-Shabab. 

By AFP
 Saturday, October 15  2011

Kenya’s military will pursue Somali gunmen across the frontier who they say are responsible for a spate of kidnappings of foreigners, the internal security minister said Saturday.

“Our territorial integrity is threatened with serious security threats of terrorism, we cannot allow this to happen at all,” said Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, accusing Somali Islamist Al Shabaab rebels of the attacks.

“It means we are now going to pursue the enemy, who are the Al Shabaab, to wherever they will be, even in their country,” he told reporters.

Two Spanish aid workers were seized Thursday by gunmen and are believed to have been taken across the border into war-torn Somalia, the third incident of foreigners being abducted in Kenya in just over a month.

“If you are attacked by an enemy, you are allowed to pursue that enemy until where you get him,” said Kenyan Defence Minister Yusuf Mohammed Haji, speaking alongside Saitoti. “We will force them far away from our border.”

Security forces were still searching Saturday for the two Spaniards, both logistics officers with the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), who were abducted from Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp.

“The latest is that the militants are still being pursued,” Saitoti said.

“We have mobilised adequate security forces who are still pursuing them.”

Kenya is still reeling from the recent kidnappings of a French and a British national from coastal regions, which has dealt a blow to its key tourism sector.

Aid agencies said they were halting all but life-saving relief efforts in Dadaab — the world’s largest refugee camp, and home to some 450,000 mainly Somali refugees fleeing drought, famine or war — as they reviewed security.

Kenyan authorities have on several occasions expressed fears Islamist extremists would infiltrate the Dadaab camps from Somalia, as the border lies barely 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.

Kenya also said it had shut its border with Somalia, although enforcing that move across the porous frontier will be a near impossible move in reality.

“We have closed the border with Somalia and we have no apology to make,” Saitoti said, adding that security officials would search all refugees entering and already in Kenya, claiming not all were “a bona fide refugee”.

“This influx of refugees crossing over from Somalia is putting our country at risk, and we can’t sit back and watch,” he added. “We are going to embark on a thorough screening of the refugees.”

The Dadaab camp complex has seen a huge influx of people this year — over 7,500 people have arrived in the crowded complex of rag, tin and plastic huts this month alone.

The exodus has been sparked by a severe drought that has affected more than 13 million people across the Horn of Africa, hitting Somalia especially hard.

Somalia has had no effective government ever since it plunged into repeated rounds of civil wars beginning in 1991, allowing a flourishing of militia armies, extremist rebels and piracy.

“Why is it that this refugee issue is being seen as a Kenyan issue?” Saitoti added.

“We want the international community to stabilize Somalia so that these refugees can be taken back there,” he said.

AU forces plan to cover al-Shabaab strongholds
 
By ASHLEY LIME
 Friday, October 7  2011

In Summary

Amisom commander confident troops will capture south and central Somali where militants fled to from capital

The regional peacekeeping mission in Somalia has declared its intentions to move and secure south and central Somalia.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) confirmed it had controlled about 95 per cent of the war-torn country’s capital, Mogadishu, and overpowered al-Shabaab militants.

Speaking in Nairobi on Friday, Amisom force commander Maj-Gen Fred Mugisha said recent terror attacks by al-Shabaab revealed how “weak and desperate” the group had become.

He said that as soon the peacekeeping force had acquired complete control of Mogadishu, they would move to the central and southern areas, including Kismayu.

“Today, 95 per cent of Mogadishu is under the control of Amisom and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). We will move to the south as soon as we gain full control. Terrorism has nothing to do with military strength. Infact, it shows how weak and desperate the group is,” said Mr Mugisha.

Conquering Mogadishu falls under Phase 1 of the Amisom concept of operation that aims to liberate the whole of Mogadishu.

Mr Mugisha said Amisom had relatively stabilised the security situation in Mogadishu, adding that any serious faction that aspires to attain political power would not carry out terror attacks on the same people it looked forward to rule.

Amisom, in collaboration with TFG, will conduct its operations in three phases aimed at freeing the people of Somalia from the shackles of atrocities.

The second phase is meant to take control of all townships surrounding Mogadishu and later to the central and southern parts of Somalia, including Kismayu.

Mr Mugisha said the second phase of their operations may help prevent more attacks on Kenya by al-Shabaab militants that has so far seen two tourists kidnapped in Lamu, part of Kenya’s coast.

According to the peacekeeping mission, militias loyal to TFG are carrying out their operations south west of Mogadishu near the Kenya-Ethiopia border to prevent terrorism.

“We hope we’ll be able to extend our operations to have the whole of Mogadishu city liberated.

“We also have a sizeable number of TFG-allied militia waging war against al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda,” explained Mr Mugisha.

According to the mission’s force commander, the terrorists are operating in rundown buildings and have built 50 to 100 metre tunnels connecting one building to the other to prevent Amisom from expanding its operations.

The Somali insurgents are also said to be using a combination of tactics ranging from conventional, assymetrical and terror attacks to wreak havoc in the country and its neighbours. Amisom and TFG have not been spared either since the same atrocities are also being waged on their troops.

According to Amisom, the rebels are coordinating their activities with pirates and the ransom money used to drive their war machines.

Women and children are the worst hit, with civilians walking about 400 km from the south to look for food and protection in Mogadishu.

Some of the challenges the Amisom faces include lack of manpower, lack of helicopters and inadequate maritime capability.

Stop al Shabaab, Kibaki tells UN

File | NATION President Kibaki with the United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon at the UN headquarters in New York.

By Kevin J Kelley

Saturday, September 24  2011

In Summary

•President calls on the world community to enhance the capabilities of both the African Union military mission in Somalia and the government

Declaring “time is of the essence”, President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday urged world leaders to quickly provide Somalia with the resources needed to prevent al Shabaab insurgents from regrouping.

Mr Kibaki spoke in New York at a United Nations (UN) mini-summit on Somalia convened on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings.

The president asked the international community to enhance the capabilities of both the African Union Military Mission in Somalia and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

Increased assistance would enable the federal government to extend its control beyond the capital of Mogadishu, the president said.

“It will also enable Amisom to deal effectively with additional and complex tasks such as the provision of humanitarian aid and protection of civilians,” President Kibaki added. “The needed assistance must be deployed quickly to forestall the regrouping of al Shabaab”.

He told the meeting chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Somalia’s instability was “placing a lot of pressure on refugee camps and related social services as well as host communities”.

Bolder pirates

Kenya is receiving as many as 2,000 Somali refugees daily, the President said.

He also warned that Somali pirates “are becoming bolder and are now extending their attacks to Kenyan and other international waters”. This worrisome development “cannot be addressed by the federal government alone”.

Thanking the UN boss for organising the mini-summit to address one of the most complex conflicts in the world today, President Kibaki reiterated that the institutions of government remained weak while severe famine in the region triggered not only immense suffering to civilians but also massive refugee flows to neighbouring countries especially Kenya.

He appealed to the international community to redouble its efforts to avert more suffering and loss of life.

President Kibaki, however, urged the international community to go beyond mere humanitarian emergency response and instead to focus on building the capacity of communities to deal with recurrent drought.

“The difficulties I have described cannot be addressed by the federal government alone, nor can Igad by itself resolve them effectively. For this reason, I urge this summit to focus on urgently mobilising international support in aid of Somalia,” he said.

The Head of State said among the significant achievements to secure a lasting solution to the Somalia crisis include extension of the tenure of the government, the signing of the Kampala Accord and increased political consultation among various actors and the recent withdrawal of al Shabaab from Mogadishu.

President Kibaki said: “This progress has resulted from the co-operation between the United Nations, the African Union, and Igad, as well as the co-ordinated efforts between the government and the military mission. I wish to sincerely thank Uganda and Burundi for their continued unwavering commitment in providing the African troops.”

 Source:Nation

 
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