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Kenya at War

“Al-Shabaab is used to pinching the bottom of a goat (Somalia's Transitional Federal Government) and now that they pinched that of a lion (Kenya), that is more fiercer and more prepared, it should be in for trouble,”

said Prof Buyu of United States International University - Africa

Kenyan soldiers on parade

The BBC news on Monday night had a ticker tape running along the bottom that said; "Kenya declares war on Somalia"   More accurately Kenya are declaring war on Al Shabaab who are the Al Qaeda of East Africa.  Kenya has joined forces with the Somali Trasitional Federal Government to help flush Al Shabaab militants out of their strongholds in Somalia (it took four years for the TFG to get them out of Mogadishu).  There was a brief news item on the subject that followed.  Tonight, Tuesday - Kenya had dropped of the BBC news entirely.  I'm a bit fed up with the BBC and their endless sensationalising, though it's important news nonetheless.

Meanwhile, I understand from the local newspapers that Kenyan forces had gone into Somalia days before any public statement was made.  So covert was this operation that the press had to use archive photos and footage of Kenyan soldiers to run with the piece (much of it taken from the Promulgation Ceremony of the new constitution in August 2010).  'Invading Somalia' to fight Al Shabaab seems to have been a pretty ballsy move that has come without much, if any warning.

Local Kenya newspapers say that towns within Somalia which are Al Shabaab strongholds have already been overpowered by Kenyan forces.  Their next target is the strategically important port town of Kismayu, through which much of the Somali piracy money is filtered to Al-Shabaab.

Now there are increased security threats to Kenya.  Internal Security Minister George Saitoti told all Kenyans to be on the look out for suspected Al Sabaab militants who might be working undercover within Kenya, plotting to wreak destruction inland.  Hotline phone numbers have been set up. 

Quote from The Standard news:

On Monday, the Al-Shabaab militants warned of reprisals in Kenya if Nairobi did not withdraw its troops.

On Tuesday, the terror gang repeated the threats through its leader, Sheikh Hassan Hersi, in a voice recording on a supportive radio station. "They attack us by air and on the border; we must unite and fight back until we clear our territory.

"The Kenyan Government will lose many people and assets because of its intervention in our territory," he added.

Meanwhile, local news channels ask viewers to pick up their phones and send in text messages along the lines of; "any words you might have for soldiers now going deeper into Somalia - (this does not require a yes or no answer)."  SMS messages are charged at 5/- higher than normal call rates.

Al Shabaab also maintain that they were not responsible for any of the recent kidnappings within Kenya.  Kenya say that all the kidnappings were definitely orchestrated by Al Shabaab, apparently the Kenyan Government has irrefutable evidence.

It's scary but there's also an air of unreality about it all.

RIP to kidnapped French woman Marie Dedieu, who we heard today has died while inside Somalia.

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