NAIROBI, Feb 10 – Somalia\’s Al Qaeda-inspired Shabab warned Kenya on Wednesday against providing military assistance to the Mogadishu government for a planned massive nationwide offensive against the militia.
Tension has been building up in Mogadishu and other key cities, including the Shebab-controlled southern port of Kismayo, as government troops backed by African Union forces and clan militia reportedly prepare for their much-anticipated offensive to reconquer southern and central Somalia.
"We are not at war with Kenya at the moment but we are monitoring their acts of aggression in our country which have prompted us to be alert," Sheikh Hassan Yaakub, Shebab spokesman in Kismayo, said on Radio Andalus, a station run by the Islamist organisation.
"The Kenyan government has been recruiting Somali soldiers who have now been armed and are ready to fight us. We will teach them a historic lesson that will not be forgotten," the Islamist official said.
Several regional intelligence sources have confirmed that Kenya has helped train and equip Kenyan and Kenya-based Somalis to take part in the offensive by crossing the border and hitting the Shebab in their southern bastions.
The southern port of Kismayo, located some 100 miles (160 kilometres) north of the Kenyan birder, is a key source of revenue for the Shabab as well as a crucial potential entry point for weapons supplies.
The Kenyan government has flatly denied recruiting, arming and training Somali militia tasked with contributing to the Somali government-led offensive against the Shebab rebels and their allies from Hezb al-Islam.
"We are ready to face those recruits as well as the Kenyan forces siding with them," Yaakub said. "If any soldier crosses the Kenyan border into our country, that is a good reason for jihad."
The Shebab, a self-declared component of the Al Qaeda-led global jihad, regards the African Union forces as Christian crusaders and President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as a Western stooge.