Kenya sends troops to Somalia; populace flees border fighting

Kenya‘s military forces crossed into Somalia Oct. 26 to support transitional government troops in a campaign against Shabab insurgents. The operation follows a wave of kidnappings by suspected Shabab militants that has threatened Kenya’s multi-million dollar tourism industry. A Nairobi military spokesman said Kenyan and Somali government troops had killed 73 rebels in fighting, but Shabab denied it had suffered any casualties. Shabab fighters are converging on the Somali border town of Afmado in lower Jubba region to block the advance of Kenyan forces. Nearly the entire population of Afmado has reportedly fled.

The Shabab called the intervention “an affront to Somalia’s territorial sovereignty” and threatened to invade Kenya if Nairobi’s forces do not leave immediately. “Kenyan troops have entered 100 kilometers into Somalia, and their planes are bombarding and killing residents,” Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mahmud Ragi said in an online message. “We shall come into Kenya if you do not go back.” (Reuters, Mareeg, Oct. 19; CNN, Oct. 18)

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