Fresh fighting near Kenyan border town

March 21, 2011 12:00 am

, \"\"NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – Fresh fighting has been reported at the Kenya-Somalia border where loyalists of the Al Shabaab militia are fighting with Somali government forces.

The latest gun and grenade battle was reported in Dobley, some 17 kilometres from the Kenya-Somalia border, according to police and provincial administrators.

“They (Al Shabaab) have been fighting on the Somalia side since Saturday, and because it is not very far from our side, we have intensified security at the border,” North Eastern Provincial Commissioner Joseph Ole Serian told Capital News on telephone from Garissa.

“Our security forces are conducting patrols along the porous border all the way from Liboi through to Mandera district which are likely to be affected by this latest fighting,” he added.

Residents in Mandera reported hearing gun shots and grenade explosions on the side of Somalia, but no casualties were reported on the Kenyan side.

“We wouldn’t know what exactly is happening there, that is not our territory but it is evident that it is Al Shabaab fighting. The Kenyan side is safe, that is what we can say for now,” he said and assured that “the number of security forces we have the borders is enough. We do not anticipate any form of invasion.”

But even as he spoke, residents of Mandera and Liboi town were living in fear after stray bullets hit several people in the area two weeks ago, wounding dozens of them.

At least one woman was killed in the fighting reported earlier this month.

On Saturday afternoon, police said a child was killed while playing with a grenade in Mandera.

“Two others were wounded but they are admitted to hospital. I caution members of the public to report to the police whenever they see a strange object. The death of the child is regrettable,” area Provincial Police chief Leo Nyongesa said.

Troops of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia have been fighting militia men loyal to Al Shabaab who control larger parts of border towns near Kenya and Ethiopia.

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