By Henry Gombya in London and Collins Wanzala in Nairobi
Somali militants of the Al-Shabaab faction have declared a war against neighbouring Kenya after Kenyan troops crossed the border made an incursion into Somalia. The BBC in London is quoting Al-Shabaab’s spokesman Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor as warning that Kenya will face the consequences of attacking Somalia. “The time to ask Kenya to stop the war is passed,” Sheikh Mansoor said. “The only option is to fight them.”
Al-Shabaab’s spokesman went on to urge Somalis living in Kenya to get out and join the fight against Kenya. He urged them to stop throwing hand grenade into the public and instead concentrate on other methods which can claim many more lives. Monsoor’s call came shortly four people were killed and several others injured when an unknown assailant fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a government vehicle transporting examination papers to Lafey Secondary School in Mandera district today morning.
Urging militants to use other more deadly means to fight the Kenyans was seen by military analysts in London as calling upon suicide bombers to strike Kenya. Confirming the incident, the North Eastern Provincial Police officer Mr Leo Nyongesa said they were pursuing the attackers whom they believed crossed over to Somali after carrying out the attack. The attack took place 100 Kilometres from the Somali-Kenya border town when the vehicle was attacked as it carried the school Principal, the District Education Officer and four Kenya Police reservists.
Mandera border town is one of the three entry points that the Kenyan Defense Forces is using to attack the Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. The other points are Liboi in Garrisa district and at the Coast near Ras Kamboni. As the festive month of December approaches, there are fears that shoppers would be targeted by Al-Shabaab as the country’s population, mainly made up of Christians, begin their Christmas shopping. Business in Kenya may also be paralysed as recent kidnappings of tourists in coastal areas have already hurt Kenya’s lucrative tourist market.
Although Kenya’s police spokesperson Erick Kiraithe described the attack as a work of bandits, observers said it carried all the hallmarks of Al-Shabaab. Many military analysts, who spoke to The London Evening Post on condition they were not named, wondered whether Kenya had any Plan B were its attempt to thrash out Al-Shabaab from Somalia go horribly wrong. Those with the knowledge of how Kenya military planners think said it is clear Mwai Kibaki’s government wanted to place a buffer zone between Somalia and Kenya that would safeguard the country’s tourist market. But they feared that the invasion of Somalia by Kenyans may bog down the Kenyan troops who might find themselves in Somalia for quite a long time.