Eritrea denies arming Somali rebels

2011-11-02 22:28

Nairobi - Eritrea denied media reports on Wednesday that said it had delivered weapons in the past few days to al-Shabaab rebels who are fighting Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia.

The United Nations has accused the Red Sea state of posing a threat to the East African region, partly by bankrolling Somalia's Islamist militants whom Kenya has blamed for a string of kidnappings of Westerners on its soil.

Media reports in Kenya and Somalia claimed Eritrea had sent two aircraft with weapons to help the al-Qaeda-linked rebels.

"The government of Eritrea states categorically that these accusations are pure fabrications and outright lies as Eritrea has not sent any arms to Somalia," Eritrea's foreign ministry said in a rare statement.

"Tuesday's baseless accusations are the latest product of a misinformation campaign orchestrated to undermine Eritrea and frustrate its constructive regional and international engagement, it said. Eritrea rarely comments on its policies.

A Kenyan military spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday two consignments of arms had been flown into central Somalia, but declined to speculate where the cache had come from.

Army spokesperson Emmanuel Chirchir said Kenya was tracking the arms caches and would strike any rebel bases where the arms were delivered, naming ten rebel bastions on Kenya's hit-list.

Eritrea said arch-foe Ethiopia, which routinely accuses Asmara of supporting rebels, as being behind the allegations.

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