US says backing Kenya’s military operation in Somalia

October 28th, 2011 - 10:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Kevin Rudd Nairobi, Oct 28 (IANS) The US Friday said it has sold military equipment and offered logistical support and military training to Kenyan troops on a mission to flush out the Al Qaeda-linked militia group in Somalia, Al Shabaab.

“We have been providing our assistance in an overt way through the Kenya Navy, Army and Air Force for long time and we will continue. We are not in Somalia. Our support is through equipment,” US Ambassador in Kenya Scott Gration said during a courtesy call on Kenyan Defense Minister Yusuf Haji, reported Xinhua.

Gration, a retired major general of the US Air Force, said here that his government will continue supporting Kenya in its bid to curtail any external aggression.

“We are not involved beyond what we do in technical support to Kenya’s military,” said Gration, whose country considers insecurity and corruption as the greatest impediments to the economic growth in Kenya.

Earlier reports indicated that Washington shipped military equipment worth $45 million to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in June. The equipment included four drones, body armour and night vision communication equipment to boost the fight against Al Shabaab in parts of Somalia.

The remarks came amid reports last Friday of a US drone attack which killed 44 Al Shabaab militia in the town of Ras Kiamboni, fuelling speculation of Washington’s involvement.

“We are not involved. Our involvement with Kenya is training and equipment that Kenya has bought, that is it,” he asserted.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, currently in Perth, Australia to attend the Commonwealth Summit, told his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd that the US was not involved in the operation “Protect Kenya’ in Somalia.

Wetangula said the Kenyan forces have gained substantial ground against the militia in southern and central Somalia.

He said the troops were also involved in efforts to improve humanitarian access on the ground, previously blocked by Al Shabaab.

“Success can only be realized if the internationalization of the situation can be avoided for now,” Wetangula said, insisting the non-involvement of the US.

Kenya sent troops into southern Somalia earlier this month, blaming Al-Shabaab for a spate of kidnappings of foreigners in the East African nation.

Al-Shabab, which controls much of central and southern Somalia, denies the allegation and has threatened reprisal attacks in Kenya.

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