, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 29 – Kenyan troops will remain in Somalia until the common border with Somalia is secured from the threats of the Al Shabaab.
Speaking during press briefing at the Department of Defence on Saturday, Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi said the Al Shabaab posed a serious threat to the country and as such the military will continue to pursue them.
He said that Kenya was not interested in acquiring Somali territory but ridding the area off the Al Shabaab menace.
“When the Kenya government and the people of this country feel that they are safe enough from the Al Shabaab menace, then we shall pull back,” he said.
“This campaign is not time bound, we shall leave it to the people of this country to decide that yes, we feel safe enough on the common border and then we shall come back,” he added.
Karangi confirmed that only one Kenyans soldier had died during the operation while three other soldiers were still missing, two kidnapped July last year while one disappeared during an operation at sea.
“During the operation involving the kidnapped Frenchwoman at sea, the military engaged with their boat. Unfortunately they were too near the border and our boat was crippled and the bandits were able to escape,” he pointed out.
“One of our soldiers could not be able to swim a shore from the operation and he is still missing.”
Karangi further said that the military operation launched about two weeks ago is backed by Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union.
“The engagement with the Al Shabaab this week was not the first; this was infact typically a terrorist ambush inside Somalia. There was a face to face encounter with them and we killed nine while the others were able to escape with serious injuries,” he explained.
President Mwai Kibaki has in the meantime affirmed that Kenya’s decision to carry out military action against the Al Shabaab militia was in response to escalating insecurity and violation of Kenya’s territorial integrity by the insurgents.
President Kibaki stated that Kenya was not at war with Somalia but was carrying out military action against the non-state actors who are perpetrating blatant attacks, abductions and killings of innocent civilians.
Speaking during an executive session of the Commonwealth Heads of State and government in Perth, Australia, the Head of State said that Kenya had no intentions of keeping troops in Somalia longer than is necessary, but will undertake the mission established under the operation to protect the country.
President Kibaki informed the session, chaired by the Prime Minister of
Australia Julia Gillard that the country’s current mission in Somalia is meant to deal with the continued threat posed by Al-Shabaab to Kenya’s national security and economic interests.
Said the President: “Our mission in Somalia is therefore, based on a legitimate right to protect Kenya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
President Kibaki emphasised that the prolonged conflict in Somalia has progressively mutated into a myriad of activities threatening the security of Kenya and other neighboring states, the region and the international community.
Saying that Kenya is working with the African Union, IGAD and the Somali Transitional Federal Government to create safe zones within the war torn country, the Head of State called on the international community to support efforts towards stabilizing Somalia.
Such support, President Kibaki noted, would enable the Transitional Federal Institutions to establish local administration to provide basic social and economic infrastructure while facilitating the return of refugees to Somalia and reduce the heavy security and economic burden currently being borne by Kenya.
He gave an assurance of Kenya’s commitment to continue working closely with the TFG, IGAD, AU and the international community to deal decisively with the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed terrorist militias.