Kenya issues attack warning over Twitter

Military spokesman announces imminent raids on 10 Somali towns on social media site.

    Somalia's PM Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (L) and Kenyan PM Raila Odinga agree to increase attacks on al-Shabab [Reuters]

    Kenya's military spokesman has given warning, over the social media website Twitter, that the residents of 10 towns in Somalia, including the port city of Kismayu, the central town of Baidoa and Afgoye near Mogadishu, that they will come under continuous military attack.

    Major Emmanuel Chirchir, the Kenyan military spokesman, said on his Twitter account that residents of Baidoa, Baadheere, Baydhabo, Dinsur, Afgoye, Bwale, Barawe, Jilib, Kismayo and Afmadow that their towns are under imminent attack.

    Chirchir said that anyone with relatives and friends in the towns should be advised accordingly.

    The Kenyan military said that it will attack 10 Somali towns where it believes al-Shabab has a presence and advised civilians to stay away from al-Shabab camps or being used as conduits for weapons.

    Al Jazeera's Peter Greste, speaking from Nairobi, said that while it is not unusual for the Kenyan government to make such warnings before attacks, the use of social media to do so is, however, something novel.

    There are also no timelines yet for the "imminent attacks" and Greste said that it was unlikely for this information to be issued over Twitter.

    In another development on Tuesday, Raila Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, said that any civilian loss of life in the country's pursuit of al-Qaeda-linked Somali fighters would be regrettable, and that investigations would be carried out if such deaths had occurred.

    His comments came after the international Red Cross, lending weight to the view that civilians were harmed, said it had resumed distribution of food aid to more than 6,000 people at a camp in southern Somalia.

    The aid group Doctors Without Borders said five people were killed and more than 50 wounded in Sunday's raids.

    The ICRC said it suspended operations following the air raid.

    The Kenyan military acknowledged carrying out an air raid attack but blamed Somali fighters for the deaths.

    Military spokesman Chirchir said the Kenyan military has received reliable information that two aircraft landed in the town of Baidoa with arms consignment intended for the al-Shabab.

    He did not say where the weapons originated from and could not be immediately reached for further comment.

    Kenya sent hundreds of the troops to Somalia in mid-October in pursuit of al-Shabab militants it blames for a string of kidnappings in Kenya.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Somali Red Crescent said in a joint statement that "all feasible precautions" must be taken to avoid civilian deaths and injuries.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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