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AFRICA > France ‘helps’ Kenya’s fight with Shabab

MOGADISHU - The Associated Press

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Al-Shabab’s military spokesman issues a statement in Mogadishu Oct.19.

Al-Shabab’s military spokesman issues a statement in Mogadishu Oct.19.

Kenya on Oct. 23 said that France’s navy bombed a town in Somalia near a stronghold of al-Shabab, the first confirmation that a Western military force is involved in the latest push against the Islamist militia.

Thousands of people, meanwhile, fled a camp for the displaced near Somalia’s capital on Oct. 23, fearing an imminent clash between African Union peacekeepers and the al-Qaeda-linked militants who are trying to demonstrate their strength amid an assault on two fronts. In the country’s south, others braced for fierce battles as Kenyan soldiers closed in on a militant-held town in their weeklong effort to defeat the al-Shabab group blamed for suicide bombings, kidnapping foreigners and killing famine victims.

Kenyan forces last week moved into Somalia to fight al-Shabab, and Oct. 23 confirmation emerged that the East African country is receiving help in the fight from a Western power. Kenyan military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir said the French navy bombed the town of Kuday near the southern al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo on Oct. 22 night. A Nairobi-based diplomat told last week that France was carrying out military attacks in Somalia; French officials in Paris denied French forces were carrying out any attacks.The Kenyan military sent troops into neighboring Somalia one week ago to pursue the militants following a string of kidnappings on Kenyan soil that were blamed on Somali gunmen.

October/30/2011

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