News24

Kenya summons Eritrean envoy over arms

2011-11-05 09:29

Nairobi - Kenya summoned the ambassador of Eritrea on Friday and threatened to take unspecified action because of reports that Eritrea had armed Somalia's al-Shabaab rebels.

Kenyan troops have been fighting al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants in the south of Somalia after crossing the border last month in pursuit of fighters Kenya blames for a spate of kidnappings.

The Kenyan military threatened this week to launch air strikes against al-Shabaab arms caches in Somalia, in response to what it said were reports Eritrea had flown two consignments of weapons to the Shabaab stronghold of Baidoa.

Eritrea denies arming the fighters and says such allegations are stirred up by regional rivals to sully its reputation.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told a news conference on Friday he had summoned the Eritrean ambassador and "raised concerns about intelligence that we have and information available that there is a possibility that arms supplies are flowing from his country to al Shabaab".

"If that be the case, we have a series of options - which I do not need to say here - to deal with the situation," he said.

Wetangula said he had agreed to an Eritrean request that its foreign minister come to Kenya to discuss the issue. He did not say when the meeting would take place.

A UN report in late July said Eritrea was bankrolling al-Shabaab and was also behind a plot to attack an African Union summit in Ethiopia. Eritrea called that report "ridiculous and absurd".

The UN has imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, as well as a travel ban and asset freezes on political and military leaders it says are violating an arms embargo on Somalia.

Several East African countries consider al-Shabaab to be a regional security threat. Uganda and Burundi have large contingents fighting against al-Shabaab on behalf of Somalia's fragile Western-backed government as part of an African force.

Wetangula said Kenya had not invaded Somalia, but was defending it's territory and supporting the Somali government.

"Make no mistake, Kenya will do everything possible to make sure that... all supplies to al-Shabaab must be stopped," Wetangula said.