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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kenya says ready to defend against al Shabaab rebels

SIOLO, Kenya June 6 (Reuters) - Kenyan security forces are ready to tackle any threats from the rebel group al Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia, a senior regional administrator said.

Al Shabaab fighters crossed into Kenya from south Somalia on May 27 while pursuing rivals from the Somali Hizbul Islam group.

They wounded five Kenyans and kidnapped three more before freeing them after negotiations between the group and Kenyan community elders.

David Ole Serian, provincial commissioner of the arid North Eastern province said there was tension at the border after the al Shabaab attack on Dadchabulla village of Wajir district, 5 km from the Somalia border.

"Our people have no reason to be afraid. Our security forces are on high alert, we shall defend our country. No part of our country will be used as a battlefield for the war in Somalia," Ole Serian told Reuters by telephone late on Saturday.

Somalia has had no effective central government for 19 years and Western efforts to install one have been undermined by an insurgency led by al Shabaab, which is viewed by Washington as al Qaeda's proxy in the region.

Residents in the northern Kenya border region fear any possible clash between troops from the Somali Transitional Federal Government and their Ahlu Sunna allies and the insurgent groups for the control of Bullahawa and Gedo areas of Somalia.

Some have fled border towns such as Mandera and El Wak to urban areas further away, such as Wajir town.

Ibrahim Issack, a resident of Mandera, said Kenyan military and police were patrolling the town. He said the military personnel aboard army trucks and armoured vehicles were also monitoring the border areas between the town and El Wak. (Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Alison Williams).


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