Nairobi (AFP) – From hit and run attacks and massacres to a shopping trip, Somali-led Shebab militants are on the march in northeastern Kenya.
Monday, June 08, 2015
With large numbers of troops in southern Somalia but seemingly unable to effectively police its own outer regions, Kenya must react quickly to stop the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists from gaining significant ground and finding a new generation of recruits, Western security officials say.
“The Somalia theatre is no longer of interest to the Shebab,” a Western security source told AFP.
“They’ve been defeated there. They are losing momentum, and their rare operations there don’t get much media attention. It’s the opposite in Kenya, where they have found a new playground for their jihad, a new source of recruits and a very strong potential to destabilize.”
The upsurge in cross-border attacks and the emergence of Kenya-based Shebab cells is now Kenya’s number-one security headache, and a strategic blow given that it deployed troops into southern Somalia in 2011 in the hope they would serve as a buffer and protect the long, porous border.
Instead, Shebab units — hunted by African Union troops and US drones inside Somalia — have flanked the Kenyan contingent to mount a string of gruesome cross-border raids.