Pull troops out or face suicide attacks, Kenya told

Somali militant group al-Shabab has threatened Kenya with suicide attacks in retaliation for sending troops across the border in the wake of hostage raids.

A spokesman for the group said in Mogadishu that Kenya must pull its troops out.

Kenyan forces poured into Somalia over the weekend, following a spate of attacks in which four Europeans have been kidnapped and one killed since September.

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Following the kidnappings of two Spanish aid workers on Thursday and the abductions of British and French women in recent weeks, minister of internal security George Saitoti said Kenyan forces would pursue al-Shabab militants into Somalia. “For the first time our country is threatened with the most serious level of terrorism,” Mr Saitoti said.

The plan to pursue fighters inside Somalia signals a huge change in Kenya’s approach.

While the African countries Uganda and Burundi each have thousands of troops fighting al-Shabab militants in Mogadishu, Kenya has not actively engaged in the fight.

Al-Shabab has already carried out one devastating suicide attack in Uganda – killing 76 people last year – and Kenya’s decision to increase engagement against the militants could open it up to more attacks inside its borders.

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On Thursday gunmen entered the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, and seized two Spanish women working for the aid group Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Dadaab is filled with nearly half a million Somali refugees fleeing conflict and hunger. The UN temporarily suspended all non-lifesaving aid operations in the camp.

Al-Shabab said Kenyans should remember what happened in Uganda – a reference to the bombings in July 2010 that killed people who had gathered to watch the soccer World Cup final on TV.

It said those attacks took place because Uganda has troops in Mogadishu with the African Union military force.

Two Britons have been arrested in Kenya, police said last night. The pair, believed to be from Cardiff, were detained near the border with Somalia, South Wales Police said.

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