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Somali rebels arm Kismayu against Kenyan assault

03 November 2011, 18:07

Mogadishu - Somali militants mounted weapons on roofs, dug trenches and armed students in the port of Kismayu against attack by Kenyan troops, warning the "Kenyan invasion" would lead to "cataclysmic consequences".

Kenya's army has warned Somali civilians to stay away from al Shabaab militant bases in 10 towns to avoid being hurt in imminent strikes. Nearly three weeks into a cross-border operation, however, Kenyan and Somalian government troops have been bogged down by heavy rains and thick mud.

"They have put their weapons over us. Every high house in the city is a defence for al Shabaab," said Fatuma Ali, who lives next to the rebel base in Kismayu.

"Since Kenya mentioned the 10 towns, al Shabaab have been readying all their weapons and small arms."

Angered by a wave of kidnappings and attacks on its soil, Kenya has been dragged into the conflict in neighbouring Somalia, which has had no effective government for two decades.

Al Shabaab has denied responsibility for the kidnappings, saying Nairobi is using them as a pretext for its operation.

Kenya issued the latest warning after it said it had received intelligence reports that consignments of weapons had reached al Qaeda-linked militants in the town of Baidoa.

On Thursday, al Shabaab said Kenya was using the arms cache discovery as an excuse to bomb the rebel towns.

- Reuters


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