Kenya’s military in hot pursuit of Somali abductors

October 15, 2011 11:40 am
Saitoti at a press briefing /FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – The Kenyan army has now crossed over into Somalia in hot pursuit of the kidnappers of two Spanish aid workers from the Dadaab refugee camp.

This was after the government invoked Article 51 of the UN chapter that gives a country the go ahead to defend itself against any aggression in its territory.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said on Saturday that the article further gives a state the right to enter into a foreign country to prevent any such occurrence and that the action aims to push al-Shabaab military forces as far away from the border as possible.

“The Kenya government has decided to take robust measures to protect and preserve the integrity of the country and at the same time to conserve properly our national and economy,” he said.

“These measures include invoking Article 51 of the UN charter that pronounces self defense as an inherent right and is also in line with the Kenyan constitution,” he added.

The Internal Security Minister also reiterated that the Kenyan border would remain closed until further notice and until the situation is brought under control.

“We have now closed the border and we have no apology as far as that is concerned. You will recall that when a very large number of refugees were coming into Kenya from Somalia because of the drought there, we did agree to receive them,” he emphasised.

He also stated that a thorough screening of the refugees in Daadab camp would begin to ensure that those who are there are legitimate.

“I am not saying that we did not screen them, we did the best to do that. However, we did make it quite clear that our security was quite stretched,” he noted. “We are going to embark on a thorough re-screening of the people who are there.”

The statement followed the kidnapping of two women aid workers on Thursday by people believed to be fighters from the Somali Islamist Al-Shabaab force.

The Internal Security Minister further called on the international community to assist in bringing lasting peace to Somalia saying continued instability in the war-torn nation was adversely affecting neighboring countries.

He explained that the instability had resulted in piracy along the Eastern Coast of the Indian Ocean and the recent spate of kidnappings in the country.

He further urged the international community to help the Kenyan forces bolster security especially around refugee camps.

“Why should it be that this thing about refugees is a Kenyan matter? We want the international community to be involved to ensure first and foremost that there is stability in Somalia so that these people can actually be taken back and be cared for in their own country,” he said.

“Why have they been reluctant to assist in enhancing the Kenyan security forces and yet they want us to have the largest refugee camp in the world?” he posed.

The British government has however called for a better coordination between the Kenya police and Navy with High Commissioner Rob Macaire pointing out that such as move would reduce incidences of insecurity within the country’s coastline and increase its capacity to deal with crime.

“The navy and the police have small fast boats, they have weaponry, training and international partners who can help with that,” he told Capital newsbeat in an interview.

“If I had one wish list for what would make things better, it would be more coordination between all the different agencies that have some say in maritime security,” he said.

Defense Minister Yusuf Haji in the meantime stated that there was nothing much the government would have done in preventing the kidnapping of the two Spanish women nationals as they had been traveling unescorted.

Haji explained that it is expected that international aid workers including UN staff travel with armed Kenyan police escorts from their bases to the various camps.

He pointed out that they are not allowed, under their regulations, to travel on their own.

“The current kidnapping is not as a result of laxity on the part of security forces for that matter. These ladies were traveling in a private vehicle, and they had not taken an escort,” he said. “However, they are now on the run and we are optimistic that we will eventually rescue them.”


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