AU 'understands' Kenya incursion in Somalia
Addis Ababa - The African Union on Wednesday said it understood the reasons for Kenya's unilateral military intervention in Somalia but stopped short of endorsing Nairobi's move.
"I don't say support, I say understand the motivations of the operations, in order to put an end to the capabilities of the Shabaab," said Noureddine Mezni, AU spokesperson, in response to an AFP question.
On Sunday, Kenya confirmed it had sent troops across its border with Somalia to hunt Shabaab insurgents it accuses of being responsible for the kidnappings of a British tourist, a disabled French woman who has since died in captivity and two Spanish aid workers.
The pan-African body has a 9 000-strong UN-mandated military force made up of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers deployed in Mogadishu to protect the weak Western-backed government there and battle Islamist rebels.
It was unclear how long Kenyan troops intended to stay in southern Somalia but a deal struck between Nairobi and the transitional Somali government on Tuesday limits Kenyan operations to the southern region of Lower Juba.
Analysts say Kenya wants to create a buffer zone on the Somali side of its border in order to ensure security at the huge Dadaab refugee camp and in popular coastal tourist resorts where the kidnappings occurred.