Kenya says targets Somali rebels behind camp blasts
Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:26pm GMT
* Kenya says rebels killed in strike
* Somali politicians in Puntland for roadmap talks
By Abdi Sheikh and Richard Lough
MOGADISHU/NAIROBI, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Kenyan air strikes on an Islamist
rebel-held village in southern Somalia targeted a militant base from where
attacks on the world's largest refugee camp had been planned, Kenya's
military spokesman said on Wednesday.
Kenya's airforce twice bombarded an insurgent camp in Hosungow village near
the two countries' common border on Tuesday, killing a rebel commander and
seventeen al Shabaab combatants, spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said in a
Local residents, however, said between 12 and 14 civilians had been killed
when the first strike bombed the outskirts of the village while the second
air raid struck the village centre.
Al Shabaab said on Tuesday a jet had targeted the group in the village but
denied suffering any casualties.
"Grenade attacks in Dadaab camp (were) planned from this camp," Chirchir
tweeted, referring to a wave of low-level blasts in Kenya's Dadaab refugee
camp that have targeted Kenya's security forces, forcing many refugee
operations to be halted.
Western aid workers have also been kidnapped from Dadaab in recent months.
Kenyan forces crossed into Somalia in October after a wave of kidnappings
and cross-border raids on its soil, blaming the rebels who control large
swathes of southern-central Somalia.
Al Shabaab have denied responsibility for the kidnappings and have
threatened major retaliatory attacks on Kenyans.
On Wednesday, Kenyan lawmakers were shown a letter dated Dec. 15 from the
president's office which said it had received information al Shabaab
operatives had been dispatched to assassinate Defence Minister Yusuf Haji
and deputy speaker Farah Maalim.
The letter also said some militants had been sent to attack the Habaswein
and El Wak markets in Kenya.
Al Shabaab has waged a bloody five-year campaign to drive the largely
impotent government from power, quitting in August most of its bases in the
capital, Mogadishu, where it continues to launch guerilla-style attacks.
The festering instability across much of the Horn of Africa country presents
a major obstacle to the interim government tasked with holding elections and
adopting a new constitution by August next year.
Somalia's top political leaders as well as top officials from the
semi-autonomous Puntland region, members of the pro-Mogadishu Ahlu Sunna
militia and the United Nations met for a three-day summit in the town of
Garowe, Puntland, on Wednesday.
The talks are aimed at gauging progress on the implementation of a political
road map designed to pave the way to a presidential vote and end a string of
transitional governments plagued by corruption and infighting. (Additional
reporting by Abdiqani Hassan in Garowe and Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi;
Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Yara Bayoumy)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Thu Dec 22 2011 - 17:08:27 EST