Somali-based, al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militant group al-Shabab has issued a new threat against neighboring Kenya. The group said it will continue its attacks in that country as long as Kenyan troops are in Somalia.
Al-Shabab said in an English-language statement Saturday it will continue to target Kenyan towns and cities until Kenyan troops are out of Somalia.
It said that if the Kenyan government continues to maintain its “invasion” of Muslim lands it will continue to strike inside Kenya.
“Know that we will continue to defend our lands and our people from the aggressive Kenyan invasion. We will continue to concentrate our attacks on Kenyan towns and cities as long as Kenyan forces continue to occupy our Muslim lands,” the group said.
Omar Mahmood, an International Crisis Group senior analyst for Eastern Africa discussed the situation with VOA via WhatsApp.
“Generally, al-Shabab remains a threat to Kenya, both from infiltration across the border and terrorist attacks in other parts of the country. So, they will continue trying to target Kenya if they don't get what they want, which at its core is the end of a Kenyan military operation in Somalia,” he said.
Mohamed Husein Gaas, director of the Raad Peace Research Institute based in Mogadishu, told VOA by phone that al-Shabab threats are real, as they have seen the organization become stronger financially in the last few years, despite the presence of African Union forces in Somalia.
“The region's increased insecurity due to the ongoing civil war in Ethiopia and the underlying political and social polarization will likely exasperate the insecurity of the region as a whole,” he said.
He said the group also may have also become more oriented toward outward expansion, as signaled by the recent attack on Ethiopia’s Somali state.
Al-Shabab has been fighting Somali government and AU peacekeeping operations in the country more than 15 years.