Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Update: Kenyan Forces Advance 75 Miles Inside Somalia

Kenyan troops reportedly have advanced some 75 miles inside Somalia from the Kenyan border and are advancing toward a strategic rebel-held Somali town as heavy air strikes batter Shebab militant positions.

Guided by pro-government Somali forces, Kenya has been hitting back against recent kidnappings inside Kenya blamed on the Islamists. Yet, the assault has prompted dire warnings of revenge from the Shebab, who deny being behind recent kidnappings of foreigners from beach resorts and an overcrowded refugee camp.

COMMENT: The last time Somalia was invaded by one of its neighbors was in late 2006 when Ethiopia started an occupation that lasted two years and spurred the formation of the al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab insurgency.

It seems unclear as to how long Kenyan troops plan to remain in Somalia, but Nairobi has been under growing pressure to take action and attempt to restore confidence that it could safely host tourists and one of the world's largest aid communities.

AFP reports that it has not see any signs of increased security in the capital, but did notice a higher-than-usual number of police checkpoints on the road leading into Nairobi from Dadaab, a sprawling series of camps in eastern Kenya that is home to 450,000 Somali refugees.

In order to show success from its incursion inside Somalia, Kenyan forces will either have to capture Shebab militants and/or Somalian pirates, or both, and hopefully rescue two Spaniards, one Briton and one Frenchwoman who have been kidnapped by pirates and taken to Somalia, perhaps for ransom demands.

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