Kenyan ramps up security at Somali border, eyes al Shabaab
Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:08pm GMT
* Residents say troops build up at border
* Kenya says will fight back when its territory violated
By Noor Ali
ISIOLO, Kenya, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The Kenyan government sent troops and
police to its northern border on Saturday and said it would hunt down
Somalian al Shabaab insurgents after the kidnapping of two Spanish aid
The two Spanish women, who were working for Medecins Sans Frontieres at the
Dadaab refugee camp, were abucted on Thursday Police believe the kidnappers
to be al Shabaab rebels but the al Qaeda-linked rebel movement has denied it
"If we are attacked by the enemy, we have the right to pursue that enemy.
"Defence Minister Yusuf Haji told a news conference. "We are trying to push
al Shabaab as far away as possible from Kenya."
Residents at Liboi and Dadachabulla border towns told Reuters they saw more
than 20 trucks ferrying soldiers and police officers. Units had also set up
camps on the border.
Two war planes were also seen flying over the area.
"A convoy of army officers from Garissa, the police and border patrol
officers at Dadachabulla have all moved to the border," said Ibrahim Mohamed
Barre, a resident from Dadachabulla 12 km (8 miles) away from the border
"About five families left for Garissa an hour ago, I am sure many people
will leave. We are worried. It's clear Kenya wants to fight al Shabaab. This
place is no longer safe," he added.
A Somali government official at the border town of Dhobley confirmed the
increased Kenyan military presence.
"The Kenyan government is supporting us and its military tanks are in the
border in order also to ensure the security of its border," Somali army
Colonel Abdiwali Yusuf told Reuters in Dhobley.
Aid workers have been targeted for abduction on many occasions in Somalia,
where kidnappings can be a lucrative business, but attacks in Kenya had been
relatively rare until a recent spate of incidents.
In 2009, three foreign aid workers working for the French charity Action
Contre la Faim were grabbed by Somali gunmen from the Kenyan border town of
Mandera. Two Western nuns were kidnapped in 2008.
Thursday's kidnapping took place within weeks of two separate incidents in
which Somali gunmen with close ties to pirates seized Western female
tourists from Kenyan beach resorts.
Analysts and diplomats in the region had warned that pirates were likely to
turn to softer targets, such as tourists in Kenya, in response to a more
robust defence of merchant vessels by private security guards.
Security experts say Islamist militants fighting to topple the
Western-backed Somali government could increasingly conduct copycat attacks
inside Kenya, the region's biggest economy.
"If a country is indeed provoked and its territorial boundary is violated, a
country has all the right to deal effectively with the aggressors, wherever
they are," Internal Security Minister George Saitoti told the same news
(Additional reporting by George Obulutsa in Nairobi, Sahra Abdi in
Mogadishu; Writing by George Obulutsa)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Sat Oct 15 2011 - 18:12:58 EDT