Defense Minister Denies Kenyan Troops in Somalia

Posted October 16th, 2011 at 9:15 am (UTC-5)
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Kenya's defense minister is denying reports the country has sent troops into Somalia to chase the militant group al-Shabab.

The French news agency and a Kenyan newspaper, The Standard, reported Sunday that Kenyan forces have crossed the Somali border.

But in an interview with VOA , Kenyan Defense Minister Yusuf Haji dismissed the reports as rumors and said “Kenya is not sending soldiers into Somalia.”

Haji said Kenya is spreading troops along the border into what he called strategic positions.

The move followed several kidnappings in Kenya blamed on Somali militants. The victims — a British tourist, a French woman, and two Spanish aid workers — are believed to be held captive in Somalia.

Reports Saturday said large numbers of Kenyan troops were assembling on the Somali border, along with aircraft and military vehicles.

Haji told VOA that Kenya is trying to strengthen its surveillance on the border. He also said Kenyan soldiers would cross into Somalia if they were “in hot pursuit” of suspected kidnappers.

Al-Shabab controls large sections of southern Somalia, including some areas along Somalia's border with Kenya.