Kenya blameless over Somalia civilian deaths

October 31, 2011 4:14 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 31 – The Kenyan military has denied involvement in Sunday’s killing of three civilians during an operation in Jilib region of Southern Somalia.

A statement from the Department of Defence in Nairobi said Kenyan troops were only responsible for the killing of 10 Al Shabaab militants in the region during an aerial attack.

“The incident at the IDP camp developed following enemy actions in the area. Upon the aerial attack, an Al Shabaab driver drove off a technical battle wagon mounted with a ZSU 2-3 anti aircraft gun, towards the IDP camp. The wagon was on fire and laden with explosives. It exploded while at the camp causing the reported deaths and injuries,” Military Spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said.

He was responding to reports by Medicines Sans Frontiers which accused Kenya’s troops of killing innocent people and wounding women and children.

“They reported an aerial bombardment at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp killing three and injuring 52 women and children,” Chirchir said, adding that they were reaching out to MSF to clarify the matter.

He clarified: “On 30th October 2011, at around 1400hrs a Kenya Air Force jet hit a known Al Shabaab camp at Jilib following a tip off that a top Al Shabaab commander was visiting the camp. Ten Al Shabaab were killed and 47 wounded with no collateral damage.”

Kenya’s troops have pitched camp in Southern Somalia where they are hunting down Al Shabaab militants accused of destabilising the East African nation’s economic stability through insecurity incidents such as recent kidnappings of four European women.

These include the kidnapping of Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu who was seized last month from her beachfront house in Lamu and later died in captivity in Somalia.

Other women still in captivity in the war torn country include a Briton also seized from Lamu last month during an incident where her husband was shot dead.

Two Spaniards working with MSF who were kidnapped from Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya are also in Somalia.

The Kenyan troops crossed the border into the lawless country two weeks ago and have been advancing deeper, vowing to free more regions of Al Shabaab militants.

Military chief Gen Julius Karangi has vowed his troops will only leave Somalia “when we are satisfied that our country is safe.”

On Monday, Somalia’s fragile Transitional Federal Government sent its Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali to hold talks with his Kenyan counterpart Raila Odinga to reiterate their support to the military incursion.

“Al Shabaab is not a Somali phenomenon; it is not a regional problem… it is a global problem so it is incumbent upon us the international community to face this threat and to make sure that it should be eliminated from the face of the earth,” Ali told journalists after the meeting.

“We had a good discussion with the Prime Minister and other members of the Kenyan government to work together and as he said we shall share intelligence and to make sure that we are walking together,” he added and declared Al Shabaab a common enemy. “They are a threat to the safety and security of both countries therefore it is necessary for us to have a common strategy against a common enemy.”

Odinga on his part said: “We will make sure that peace and normalcy is back in Somalia. We will like to have Somalia in future join the East African Community.”

The two Prime Ministers later issued a joint communiqué calling for the intervention of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) in taming the Al Shabaab menace.

“TFG will seek ICC assistance in beginning immediate probe into crimes against humanity committed by members of AL Shabaab movement with the aim of seeking indictment as soon as possible,” the joint communiqué read out by Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka said.


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