[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Somalia's al Shabaab says not behind kidnap of Briton

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 14 2011 - 07:34:29 EDT

Somalia's al Shabaab says not behind kidnap of Briton

Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:07am GMT

* Militants say not involved in attack, to release statement

* Hostage Judith Tebbutt in Kismayu on Tuesday - rebel source

By Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Somalia's Islamist rebel group al Shabaab
said on Wednesday it was not behind the kidnapping of a British woman from a
luxury beach resort in neighbouring Kenya.

Gunmen, whose identities are still unknown, raided the remote Kiwayu Safari
Village in the early hours of Sunday, shooting dead publishing executive
David Tebbutt, 58, and taking hostage his wife Judith, 56, before escaping
by boat.

"Al Shabaab has not abducted any Briton from Kenya. We believe bandits
carried out the attack," a senior al Shabaab official told Reuters by
telephone from an undisclosed location.

"We shall release a statement later that al Shabaab is not involved," the
rebel official said.

An al Shabaab recruitment officer in Kismayu, more than 200 km (120 miles)
north of the Kenyan border, said Judith Tebbutt had been brought to the port
city on Tuesday but her whereabouts were now unknown.

She said the ruthless attack had been carried out by militia fighters
normally sympathetic to al Shabaab but on this occasion funded by local
pirate financiers.

"Pirate investors provided a boat and weapons for the raid. The pirate gang
want now to demand a ransom but al Shabaab are against the idea," said the
rebel recruiter, who is married to a senior al Shabaab commander.

She said she received the information by telephone from al Shabaab's top
administration official in Kismayu, the nerve centre for the rebels'
operations in southern Somalia.

Kenyan police have said they believed the gang were likely to be acting on
the orders of a larger group of militia men and had probably fled to

Kidnapping for ransom has chiefly been carried out by Somali pirates in the
Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean but Somali gunmen have attacked Westerners
just across the border with Kenya on several occasions.

Three aid workers were kidnapped in July 2009, and two western nuns in
November 2008.

The south of Somalia bordering Kenya is mainly controlled by the al
Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents, who have been fighting the
Western-backed government in the capital Mogadishu for more than four years.
(Additional reporting by Sahra Abdi in Nairobi; Writing by Richard Lough)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


World should capitalise on Somali insurgent retreat: AU

Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:53pm GMT

* Al Shabaab have withdrawn from Somali capital

* Time is now to make a difference in Somalia-AU

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Sept 13 (Reuters) - World powers should take advantage of a
retreat by Somalia's al Shabaab rebels and step up efforts to defeat them by
backing government troops and imposing a no-fly zone and a sea blockade, the
African Union said on Tuesday.

The al Qaeda-linked group pulled out of bases in Somalia's coastal capital
Mogadishu at the end of August, raising hopes that its influence was waning
in the Horn of Africa nation.

Al Shabaab warned it would fight on elsewhere but experts say it has been
significantly weakened by internal divisions and a shortage of fighters.

"There's a shared belief by all of us that the time is now to make a
difference in Somalia," Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner of the bloc's Peace
and Security Council, told reporters.

"There can be some frustration that (AU peace keepers are) not fully
equipped and that (government) troops are not fully operationalised so that
they can take an immediate advantage at a period (when) al Shabaab are
weaker than they used to be in the past," he said in the AU's headquarters
in Addis Ababa.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow
of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. Al Shabaab has been waging a four-year
insurgency against Western-backed government troops and AU peacekeepers.

The AU last year called on the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone
and a maritime blockade on the war-shattered nation to cut the flow of arms
and recruits to the rebels, but the world body has not carried out the

The United Nations will hold a meeting on Somalia in New York next week and
Lamamra said he hoped "concrete steps" would be taken to support efforts to
oust the rebels.

"We have been told that those recommendations are under consideration at
U.N. level and we believe that the time has come now to implement those
measures which are likely to change the dynamics of the situation in
Somalia," he said.

Somalia is in the grips of a famine that the United Nations says is killing
hundreds daily. (Editing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved


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