NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Kenya and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia have now resolved to join forces to fight off Al Shabaab militants who have lately made advancements into Kenyan territory and kidnapped foreigners.
Cabinet Ministers Yusuf Haji and Moses Wetangula travelled to Somalia earlier on Tuesday and held talks with TFG officials, as Kenya’s military troops continued an offensive against Al Shabaab inside Somalia.
A joint communiqué sent from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Nairobi said the two governments had also resolved to cooperate in undertaking security and military operations in the Lower Juba regions of Somalia.
Both governments will also undertake coordinated pre-emptive action, and pursuit of any armed elements that continue to threaten and attack both countries.
Military Spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir told Capital News that Kenyan forces had fully surrounded Afmadow, some 120 kilometres deep inside Somalia after they seized Dhobley and Qoqani.
There has been no clash between the Kenyan Military troops and the Al Shabaab militants so far.
In Nairobi, police said they had heightened security in the wake of threats of Al Shabaab reprisals who are protesting the military offensive targeting them.
Meanwhile, fresh reports say sea piracy has reached record levels with 352 attacks reported worldwide so far this year although more and more raids off epicentre Somalia are being thwarted.
The report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) hailed coordinated international anti-piracy measures by navies and commercial ships’ increased use of onboard security measures to deal with the scourge.
“Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past nine months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the same period of any past year,” said the IMB’s director, Captain Pottengal Mukundan.
The report said that Somali pirates were intensifying their attacks and moving beyond their own coastline, including carrying out an attack “with unprecedented boldness” on a tanker at anchor in an Omani port.
But while Somali pirates carried out 199 attacks this year, up from 126 attacks for the same period in 2010, they were only successful 12 percent of the time, compared to 28 percent of the time in 2010.
“Somali pirates are finding it harder to hijack ships and get the ransom they ask for,” Mukundan said, hailing international warships’ “excellent work” in deterring pirates by patrolling the area.
“The number of anti-piracy naval units must be maintained or increased,” he said.
The report said that pirates had killed eight people so far this year and injured 41, with 625 hostages taken.
The coast of West African nation Benin is also seeing a surge in piracy, the IMB said, with 19 attacks this year compared to none last year. The navies of Benin and neighbouring Nigeria have in response launched joint patrols.