Accessibility links

US Says No Participation in Kenya's Somalia Operation


Kenyan military personnel prepare to fuel a supplies helicopter at the Garrisa airstrip near the Somali-Kenya border, October 18, 2011.

Kenyan military personnel prepare to fuel a supplies helicopter at the Garrisa airstrip near the Somali-Kenya border, October 18, 2011.

The United States has denied taking part in Kenya's operation against al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia.

A U.S. State Department release said Tuesday that the U.S. has helped Kenya build its border defense capacity for years, but added, "The United States is not participating in Kenya's current operation in Somalia."

A Kenyan army spokesman said Sunday that so-called "partners" had launched airstrikes against al-Shabab, and indicated that one of those partners was the United States.

The Kenyan army spokesman also said the French Navy had shelled the al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo. The French navy denied that claim on Monday.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia this month in pursuit of al-Shabab militants, which it blames for a series of cross-border kidnappings.

Somalia's president said Monday that he opposes the Kenyan intervention. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said only African Union troops can operate legally in Somalia.

That drew a sharp response from a top Kenyan lawmaker, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Farah Moallim, who told VOA Somali Service Tuesday that Kenya has a right to defend itself.

Al-Shabab is fighting to topple the U.N.-backed Somali government and set up an Islamic state in Somalia. The group has lost ground to Somali government and African Union troops in recent months but still controls considerable territory in southern and central Somalia.

The United States considers al-Shabab a terrorist group with links to al-Qaida, and has struck al-Shabab targets in Somalia in the past. However, The New York Times on Sunday quoted a senior U.S. official as saying there have been no recent U.S. military strikes in Somalia.

Al-Shabab has denied playing a role in the kidnappings that took place just before Kenya's incursion.

Since entering Somalia a little more than a week ago, Kenyan forces have carried out airstrikes and advanced close to al-Shabab-controlled towns but have yet to fight a major ground battle with the militant group.

XS
SM
MD
LG