[Dehai-WN] Nation.co.ke: Kenya, Somalia seal pact to hit Shabaab

[Dehai-WN] Nation.co.ke: Kenya, Somalia seal pact to hit Shabaab

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2011 23:36:13 +0200

Kenya, Somalia seal pact to hit Shabaab

By PETER LEFTIE pmutibo_at_ke.nationmedia.com
Posted Tuesday, October 18 2011 at 22:00

In Summary

* Mogadishu hit by bomb attack as visiting Kenyan ministers brief
Somali leaders on military offensive against militant group

The Kenya and Somali governments on Tuesday agreed on a joint strategy to
wipe out the al Shabaab militants.

As Kenyan troops moved deeper into Somalia, taking ground previously held by
the militant group, a meeting in Mogadishu attended by Kenyan Foreign
minister Moses Wetang'ula, Defence minister Yusuf Haji and Somalia President
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed, discussed the joint
military offensive against the insurgents.

But even as the meeting took place, the Somali capital was rocked by a huge
car bomb explosion outside the former Foreign Affairs building.

At the battle front, the military declared that it will intensify its
operations targeting al Shabaab strongholds.

"Our forces will be concentrating on operations in Afmadow region today,"
said Kenya army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir.

Kenyan troops have pushed at least 120 kilometres into Somalia to reach
Afmadow region, guided by pro-government Somali forces, backed by heavy
aerial bombardments, but slowed down by heavy rains pounding the region.

Diplomatic foray

The diplomatic foray into Mogadishu came as President Kibaki chaired a
Cabinet meeting that endorsed the military offensive, which it termed an
"important duty of securing the Kenyan nation."

Mr Haji told the media after the closed-door meeting in Mogadishu that the
two sides had discussed closer co-operation on security matters to wipe out
al Shabaab.

"Continuous exchange of information on security matters was considered a
priority," said Mr Haji.

There was a scare after a car bomb exploded in Mogadishu near the meeting
between the Kenyan delegation and the Somalia leaders.

The explosion is said to have claimed four lives including the driver of a
truck suspected to have been carrying the explosives.

In Nairobi, a dispatch from the Presidential Press Service (PPS) said the
Cabinet had fully backed the military engagement in Somalia while sending
messages of condolence to the families of five soldiers who died in a
helicopter crash at the start of the mission.

"The Cabinet that met today at State House, Nairobi, also supported and
commended the actions taken by members of the Kenya Defense Forces and other
security forces in the offensive against the al Shabaab," the statement

"The Cabinet assured members of the country's security forces that the
government and entire country were in support of their mission and conveyed
their message of encouragement as they undertook the important duty of
securing the Kenyan nation," it added.

Meanwhile, a senior al Shabaab leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, warned
that Kenya would face the consequences of moving troops into Somalia. (READ:
Al Shabaab warns Kenyan soldiers)

"Kenya has joined the list of occupiers of another country's land, and
history will tell what happens to their aggression," Sheikh Aweys, a key
figure in Somali Islamism, told AFP by telephone from Somalia.

Held consultations

At the same time, security was beefed up at Parliament buildings after
senior police officers held consultations with National Assembly Clerk
Patrick Gichohi on Monday evening.

And on Tuesday, the officers were seen making rounds at Parliament buildings
to ensure the new measures had been implemented.

Police manning Parliament's two entrances searched all the vehicles coming
in, including those of the National Assembly staff.

As the Kenyan troops intensified attacks on al Shabaab bases in parts of
Somalia bordering Kenya, three western nations called on their citizens not
to visit northern parts of the country for fear of retaliatory attacks from
the militants.

Statements posted on the websites of the US, British and Australian missions
in Nairobi warned their citizens against travel to towns bordering the
Kenya-Somalia border citing security concerns.

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