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Kenya to probe deaths in Somali air raid

01 November 2011, 17:30

Nairobi - Kenya will probe claims of civilian deaths in an air raid against Somalia's Shabaab rebels, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Tuesday, after an aid group said five people died in the attack.

Kenyan warplanes struck a town in insurgent-held southern Somalia on Sunday in an offensive against the Shabaab, which Nairobi blames for cross-border attacks and tourist kidnappings.

"If there is any death that has occurred as a result of the military operation, it will be investigated thoroughly," Odinga told reporters.

"It is not our intention to kill innocent civilians."

Aid agency Doctors Without Borders said five civilians, including children, were killed when a bomb hit a camp hosting some 9 000 displaced Somalis.

A regional Shabaab commander put the death toll at 15 people, and vowed to avenge the attack.

Army spokesperson Emmanuel Chirchir said 10 Shabaab fighters were killed in the raid and claimed the civilian deaths occurred after a Shabaab vehicle mounted with an anti-aircraft gun was hit and careered into a camp of civilians "on fire and laden with explosives".

Kenya sent troops and tanks into southern Somalia in mid-October to battle the Shabaab and prevent the al-Qaeda-linked rebels from attacking its territory.

Kenya's military chief General Julius Karangi said the forces will pull out "when the Kenyan government and the people of this country feel they are safe enough".

Security forces in Kenya say they have stepped up surveillance and last week a 28-year-old Kenyan was jailed for life after confessing to being behind a grenade attack in central Nairobi that killed one and wounded several.

Odinga and his Somalia counterpart Abdiweli Mohamed Ali vowed Monday to defeat the Shabaab and called for international help, notably a blockade on Somalia's port town of Kismayo, a key rebel stronghold.


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