Wednesday January 3, 2007
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Kibaki meets Somalia president as tension at border persists

By Standard Team

Somalia President Abdillahi Yusuf held talks with President Mwai Kibaki at State House, Mombasa, even as border security with the warring country was tightened to keep out fleeing militia.

Shortly before his arrival, a high-powered security team led by Internal Security minister John Michuki met in Mombasa and resolved to tighten security at entry points to keep out the militia.

Yusuf came calling a day after his Government asked Nairobi not to allow the routed Islamic Courts Union fighters to enter Kenya.

He arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport aboard a Kenyan registered private light aircraft, where he rested for a while. He was then driven to Wilson Airport at around 3.40pm where he boarded a military plane for Mombasa.

With him were about 10 top officials of his Government.

The Islamists hired foreign military personnel

There were fears that more than 3,000 defeated militiamen allied to the Union of Islamic Courts had retreated into border locations with Kenya after Ethiopian troops invaded and routed them from their last stronghold at the port of Kismayu.

Eight of the fighters seized by Kenyan security forces on Monday were still in custody at Garissa Police Station. Sources told The Standard the foreigners were expatriates hired by the Islamists to train recruits on military warfare.

Police revealed that an Ethiopian national with a Canadian passport was the commander of the Ogaden National Liberation Front forces sympathetic to the Islamists.

Four other suspects were believed to be among hundreds of Kenyan Somalis recruited by the Islamists but were returning home after the defeat of their troops whose commanders were holed up at Kuda Camp near Raskiamboni border.

The three Eritreans, on the other hand, are said to be Colonels hired to train the Islamist troops.

President Yusuf arrived as the National Security Council members were briefing President Kibaki on the Somalia crisis.

The council, made up of top security, intelligence, provincial administration and immigration officers, held a morning meeting with the security sub-committee of the Cabinet at the PC’s boardroom.

Those present were Vice-President Mr Moody Awori and Internal Security minister Mr John Michuki, Foreign Affairs minister Mr Raphael Tuju, Defence minister Mr Njenga Karume and Head of the Civil Service Mr Francis Muthaura.

Others were Attorney-General Mr Amos Wako, Police Commissioner Maj-Gen Hussein Ali and permanent secretaries in charge of Immigration, Foreign Affairs and Defence.

Also present were the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) director, Brig Michael Gichangi and Chief of General Staff, Gen Jeremiah Kianga.

Officials said they had resolved to ensure no foreigner is allowed to enter Kenya from Somalia.

Militia fleeing from heavy bombardment

More contingents of police and military officers led by the Coast Deputy Provincial Police Officer, Mr Francis Chelimo, were sent to the Kiunga border where refugees were flocking to seek entry into Kenya.

US marines operating in Lamu have also joined the Kenyans in beefing up security.

The Coast Provincial Police Officer, Mr King’ori Mwangi, said security had been tightened at the affected areas.

"We are alert and the required measures have been taken," King’ori said.

Those coming from the Somalia side are screened and those ineligible are denied entry. In North Eastern, Provincial Commissioner Kiritu Wamae led his officers in patrolling the area as police interrogated those in custody who were arrested in Liboi.

The team patrolled the volatile border region in a military helicopter. Preliminary reports indicated that militia seeking to enter Kenya escaped on foot under a volley of gunfire and aerial bombardment from the established and more sophisticated Ethiopian troops. On December 24, the Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia to restore the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to power after Islamic Courts Union forces captured most towns in the anarchic country.

And border residents said tension was mounting as Kenyan security forces intensified their presence along the 1,200km border.

The Islamist are disguised as refugees

Unconfirmed reports indicated that close to 1,000 troops from the lower Juba region had sought refuge in Kenyan villages while mapping out a counter offensive in a desperate effort to recapture Kismayu.

North Eastern Provincial Security and Intelligence Committee members on Tuesday pitched tent at the Liboi border entry point to closely monitor the security Situation, with sources intimating to The Standard that the Government was likely to close the border to stem an influx of the defeated troops.

Mr Wamae said no refugees were being allowed entry since preliminary reports indicated the defeated militia were disguising themselves as refugees. He, however, said calls by the Somalia premier Ghedi to close the border could only be considered at a higher level.

Other reports indicated that Kenyan forces prevented 100 Somalis from Ras Kiamboni from entering the country at the Kiunga border post.

Speaking by telephone, Lamu OCPD, Mr John Kamau, said Kenyan forces had been sent to the area. He said soldiers drawn from Baragoi and Mariakani military barracks, GSU personnel from Mokowe Camp backed by regular police were patrolling the border frontier.

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