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Somali Islamists warn Kenya

NAIROBI, March 9 – Somalia’s hardline Islamist Shebab group on Sunday issued a stark warning for Kenya to refrain from interfering in its administration of southern border regions.

In a statement on one of its websites, the Shebab accused Kenya of spreading propaganda on alleged instability caused by its Somali fighters, who have controlled the Lower Jubba region since mid-2008.

"We are telling (Kenya President Mwai) Kibaki that we have the mujahedin (holy warriors) who fought for the country and who dragged the bodies of Americans and Ethiopians in the streets," the Shebab said.

"Kibaki should know the recent ordeals of Burundians in Somalia," the statement added, in reference to an attack late last month in which 11 Burundian members of the African Union peacekeeping force were killed.

The Shebab compared Kenya’s rhetoric on Somalia to the argument of weapons of mass destruction used by Washington to invade in Iraq in 2003 and warned against any military action at the border.

"If Kenyans provoke us, they should know that the violence will not be confined to Somalia. We will defend ourselves like we did against Ethiopia and the United States of America," the statement said.

Kenya has repeatedly expressed concern that the rise of a hardline Islamist administration in the southern port city of Kismayo and surrounding areas risked having negative repercussions on security within its borders.

Former Islamist rebel leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was elected Somalia’s new president earlier this year but his forces are struggling to reclaim control of the capital Mogadishu and the southern third of the country remains firmly under insurgent control.

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