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[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Al Shabaab attack Kenyan police camp, kill 7

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2012 00:23:50 +0100

Al Shabaab attack Kenyan police camp, kill 7

Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:54pm GMT

* Al Shabaab had watched camp ahead of attack

* Rebels plan to name prisoners later

* Kenyan army spokesman hands rebels propaganda coup

* Kenyan security forces accused of rights abuses (Adds details, police
comments, Human Rights Watch report)

By Noor Ali

ISIOLO, Kenya, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Somali Islamist rebels stormed a remote
police camp in northeastern Kenya, killing seven people and kidnapping
three, the militants and Kenyan officials said on Thursday.

Scores of rebel fighters threw grenades and other explosives as they raided
the police camp on Wednesday evening in Gerille, a town 7 km (4 miles) from
the porous frontier with Somalia, Regional Commissioner Wenslas Ongayo said.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in a statement there were about 100
suspected al Shabaab attackers and two officials and a member of the public
had been abducted.

Kenya has tried to beef up security along the border since it sent troops
into the anarchic Horn of Africa country in October to crush the al
Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents.

Al Shabaab said it carried out the raid to avenge the "aggressive Kenyan

"Taken by surprise and unable to respond effectively to the attack, seven
Kenyan administration police and government officials were immediately
killed while others were taken prisoner," the militants said in an emailed

Kenyan security forces were scouring the border area amid fears the hostages
had been hauled across the border. Residents in the Somali town of Haggar
said they had seen two Kenyan policemen and another man in the hands of al
Shabaab fighters.

Kiraithe said the gunmen had seized firearms, ammunition and a vehicle from
the police post. He said six people including two administration police
officers, had been killed.

A local councillor and an education official said a primary school teacher
had also been killed in the crossfire.


Wednesday night's attack highlights the difficulties Kenya faces in securing
the frontier, days after Britain warned Islamist militants were in the final
stages of preparing an attack on sites in Kenya frequented by expatriates
and tourists.

Kenyan forces initially moved swiftly on rebel strongholds but their advance
on targets such as the port city of Kismayu, the nerve-centre of al
Shabaab's operations in southern Somalia, has since stalled, first hampered
by rains and now by an apparent lack of strategy.

Kenya's military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir also handed the militants a
propaganda coup after tweeting four photos he said were of a Kenyan al
Shabaab member being stoned to death on Tuesday by the rebels in Kismayu
over a difference of opinion.

The photos turned out to be of a Somali man accused of adultery being
executed by Hizbul Islam, another Islamist group that has since merged with
al Shabaab. The photos were taken in 2009 near Mogadishu by a major
international news agency.

"I take responsibility for the photographs," Chirchir told Reuters, adding
al Shabaab had still executed a Kenyan in Kismayu on Tuesday and two more
executions were expected.

Al Shabaab denied on Twitter it had executed anyone in Kismayu. "A simple
Google search would have save them such an embarrassment," the rebels

In another blow to the Kenyan campaign, New York-based Human Rights Watch
(HRW) said on Thursday Kenyan security forces have raped, beaten and
arbitrarily detained Somali refugees and Kenyan citizens in northeastern

The rights group said there had been a series of crackdowns since Kenya
launched its incursion in October in a region that has also suffered a
string of roadside bomb and grenade attacks by suspected Somali gunmen.

"Kenya's security forces are rightly concerned about attacks by suspected
al-Shabaab members, and should be doing more, not less, to identify the
attackers," said Daniel Bakele, director of Africa Human Rights Watch.

"But beating, raping, and humiliating innocent Kenyan citizens and Somali
refugees accomplishes nothing," he said.

Army spokesman Chirchir told Reuters he would not comment until authorities
investigate the accusations.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday it had
suspended food distribution to 1.1 million people in central and southern
Somalia after Islamist militants blocked deliveries in parts of the
famine-hit country.

For full HRW statement, click on:
near-somalia-border> here (Additional reporting by Daud Yussuf in Garissa
and Jacob Kuehn, Sahra Abdi and Richard Lough in Nairobi; Writing by Richard
Lough; Editing by David Clarke)

C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved


Somalia Islamists force ICRC food aid suspension

Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:12pm GMT

(Removes reference to WFP in para 6)

* Somalia government warns of humanitarian disaster

* Rebels only want Islamic aid - locals

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) said on Thursday it had suspended food distribution to 1.1 million
people in central and southern Somalia after Islamist militants blocked
deliveries in parts of the famine-hit country.

A Somali government minister told Reuters the suspension could worsen the
humanitarian crisis in a country where 250,000 Somalis already live in
famine conditions and a total of 4 million need aid, according to U.N.

The ICRC, which was one of the last agencies working in rebel-held areas,
said militants had stopped its trucks since mid-December in the Middle
Shabelle and Galgadud regions.

"The suspension will continue until we receive assurances from the
authorities controlling those areas that distributions can take place
unimpeded and reach all those in need, as previously agreed," Patrick Vial,
head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia, said in a statement.

The ICRC said it was talking to al Shabaab, an Islamist rebel group linked
to al Qaeda, to try and solve the problem as soon as possible.

The rebels, who are hostile to Western intervention in the lawless Horn of
Africa country, outlawed 16 relief agencies in November.

Somalia has been mired in anarchy since warlords toppled military dictator
Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Abdullahi Haji Hassan, Somalia's agriculture minister, said the action by
the rebels would cause another humanitarian crisis, and called for
international help to avert a disaster.

"Al Shabaab wants the Somalis to perish," Hassan told Reuters on Thursday.

The suspension also hit the ICRC's distribution of seeds and fertilisers to
farmers, part or its emergency operation begun last October to combat the
effects of severe drought and war.

"We are in touch with local representatives of al Shabaab where the events
have occurred - 140 trucks have been blocked since mid-December," ICRC
spokeswoman Marie-Servane Desjonqueres said.


Somalia is the ICRC's second largest humanitarian programme after
Afghanistan, with an initial budget of about 70.2 million Swiss francs for
this year.

Its programmes to help severely malnourished children, and provide health
care and clean water in other parts of Somalia, including Mogadishu, were
continuing, Desjonqueres said.

"The suspension of aid will have effect on both civilians and al Shabaab ...
Al Shabaab fighters are parasites," Hirsi Yusuf, the director of Somalia's
federal and reconciliation ministry told Reuters.

Residents said the militants wanted only Islamic agencies to provide aid in
the areas it controls, and many would flee to the capital Mogadishu to find

"Al Shabaab halted the ICRC aid a fortnight ago. Al Shabaab wants only
Islamic organisations like Islamic Relief which also operates here," local
elder Mohamed Nur told Reuters from Bardhere District in southwest Somalia.

"We the people need ICRC to continue aid but we have no power to challenge
al Shabaab. The rebels openly told ICRC that Islamic organisations brought
abundant food." (Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar in
Mogadishu; Editing by James Macharia and Andrew Heavens)

C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved


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