October 17, 2011
Kenya has declared war on a Somali Islamist group and its army yesterday crossed into southern Somalia to pursue al-Shabaab, which it blames for a series of kidnappings inside its territory.
Kenyan tanks, troops, trucks and air support were seen inside its northern neighbour a day after the country’s Internal Security Minister labelled al-Shabaab “the enemy” vowed to set up a “buffer zone” north of its border. There were also reports of US drone attacks on suspected militant training camps in Ras Kamboni, a coastal forest near the border with Kenya.
The biggest military action in Kenya’s recent history comes five years after Ethiopia invaded Somalia with US approval and air support – an action that ended in ignominious withdrawal and helped to create al-Shabaab in its current form.
Kenyan forces entered an area of southern Somalia where they have previously been supporting at least two Somali militia groups fighting al-Shabaab for territory. However, Nairobi appears to have decided that its proxy war across the border was not working and has sent an occupation force instead.