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Kenya's al-Shabab Crackdown Nets Cleric, 2 Doctors

The two doctors, Adan Hassan Hilo (C) and Ali Omar Salim (R), arrested by the Anti-Terrorist-Police Unit (ATPU) appear before the Nairobi Chief Magistrate's court in Kenya October 21, 2011

Kenya has arrested a Muslim cleric and two doctors with alleged ties to al-Shabab militants in neighboring Somalia, where Kenya's military has continued to pursue al-Shabab insurgents.

The doctors appeared in a Nairobi court on Friday, where they pleaded not guilty to terrorism- related charges.

The physicians, Ali Omar Salim and Adan Hassan Hillow, operated a clinic in Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali area of Nairobi.

The doctors and the cleric, Imam Hassan Mahat, were detained on Thursday as part of a government crackdown on al-Shabab. Authorities believe the al-Qaida-linked group is behind the recent kidnappings of foreigners in Kenya.

Meanwhile, Kenya's army reported Friday that its air and ground forces had pushed further across southern Somalia in its pursuit of al-Shabab.

The government said Kenyan troops had moved within 35 kilometers of the insurgent-held town of Busar and that they were closing in on Kismayo, an key al-Shabab base.

Meanwhile in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the African Union rejected al-Shabab claims that more than 70 AU troops had been killed in clashes over control of Daynile district.

In an interview with VOA Somali Service on Friday, an AU spokesman called that claim "propaganda." Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda accused al-Shabab of dressing up their own dead as AU troops. Ankunda said six AU troops were killed and two others are missing.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.