Kenyan troops off to war
The Kenya military has been ordered into action to stop al Shabaab militia from further threatening the country’s security and economy.
At a press briefing on Saturday, the country’s top security chiefs declared war on the terrorist organisation operating from Somalia and said Kenyan security forces will henceforth pursue the aggressors across the border.
“The Kenyan Government has decided to take robust measures to protect and preserve the integrity of the country and the national economy and security,” said a joint statement read by Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti.
He was accompanied by Defence minister Yusuf Haji. Military sources told the Sunday Nation that troops and military hardware had been mobilised to go after the rag tag militia across the border.
The Sunday Nation also learnt that a convoy of army trucks left Nanyuki for Moyale in the morning on Saturday, with the Engineering Unit based there also said to be headed in the same direction as another unit left for Wajir.
Additional war planes were deployed from the Laikipia Air Base to reinforce others that have been in the area for the past one week.
There were reports on Saturday evening that navy soldiers on patrol near Lamu had “taken out” two speedboats carrying combatants who defied orders to stop. (READ: Kenya’s security forces on the spot after attacks)
A separate air attack on a village in Ras Kamboni not far from the Kenya-Somalia border thought to have been carried out by American forces was also reported.
Although Kenya’s armed forces are said to be among the most professionally run in Africa, they have never gone to war in the region and this will be the first time they will go after foreign combatants who have threatened Kenya’s territorial integrity.
The ministers said the movement of al Shabaab closer to the Kenyan border had brought with it the risk of terrorist attacks on Kenyan soil and asked citizens to be vigilant.
Prof Saitoti gave a chronology of provocative actions by the militia, including the killing of a tourist in Lamu, and abductions of tourists and humanitarian aid workers.
The minister said the government had taken specific measures to enhance security for its citizens and visitors. (READ: Kibaki warns external aggressors)
The steps include increased surveillance at the Coast and border points with special emphasis on tourist locations, additional boats patrolling the Indian Ocean and the adoption of a joint plan with hotels to enhance response to any threats.
Prof Saitoti said Kenya had a right to self-defence, adding that the Constitution and the UN Charter were clear on the defence of borders.