|Kenya has deployed troops inside Somalia to fight al-Shabab [Reuters]|
Eritrea has rejected Kenyan allegations that it may be arming al-Shabab fighters in Somalia, as a diplomatic row between the two countries intensifies.
Moses Wetangula, Kenya’s foreign affairs minister, said on Friday that he had summoned the Eritrean ambassador and “raised concerns about intelligence that we have and information available that there is a possibility that arms supplies are flowing from his country to al-Shabab”.
Wetangula said Kenya, whose troops are fighting al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab fighters in southern Somalia, had “a series of options”, which he did not specify, to deal with the alleged arms supplies.
Eritrea denies arming the fighters and says such allegations are stirred up by regional rivals to sully its reputation.
It described Kenya’s implied threat of action as “unfortunate” ahead of an anticipated visit to Kenya by its own foreign minister.
“The Government of Eritrea finds extremely regrettable the remarks attributed to the foreign minister of Kenya, regarding the fabricated story of Eritrean arms shipments to al Shabaab in Somalia,” Eritrea’s foreign ministry said in a statement dated November 5.
Kenya deployed troops inside Somalia three weeks ago to fight the al-Shabab fighters it blames for a wave of kidnappings in Kenya and frequent cross-border attacks.
Nairobi has warned of air strikes on a number of al-Shabab fighter bases across southern and central Somalia in response to what is said were reports Eritrea had flown consignments of weapons into the militant enclave of Baidoa.
One of al-Shabab’s top commanders told worshipers on Sunday that the fighters would not surrender their key strongholds, even if subjected to aerial bombardments.
“Kenya’s fighter jets will never seize our towns, but they may injure or kill a few people,” Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys said in Almada, in the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, after leading prayers to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
Kenya has long cast a wary eye at its lawless neighbour Somalia, awash with weapons and mired in conflict since the overthrow of a dictator in 1991.