Somali Islamists deny Kenya raids

2011-10-17 22:47

Mogadishu  -Somalia's Islamist Shabaab rebels on Monday denied being behind the recent kidnappings of foreigners in Kenya following accusations against them by Nairobi.

"Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen hereby categorically denies all charges pertaining to the kidnapping of tourists and aid workers from inside Kenya," the group said in a statement.

"The allegations put forward by the Kenyan authorities with regard to the recent kidnappings are, at best, unfounded and... not substantiated with any verifiable evidence. They are not in any way, shape or form attributable to Harakat al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen," the group said.

Kenya on Sunday said it had sent troops and tanks into Somalia "in pursuit of the Shabaab, who are responsible for the kidnappings and attacks on our country."

In just over a month, a British woman and a French woman have been abducted from Kenyan beach resorts in two separate incidents, dealing a major blow to Kenya's tourism industry.

On Thursday, two Spanish aid workers were seized by gunmen from Kenya's crowded Dadaab refugee camp, the world's largest with some 450 000 mainly Somali refugees.

The Shabaab accused the Kenyan government of using the kidnappings as a "flimsy pretext" for its incursion into the country.

The statement renewed a call made earlier in the day by a Shabaab official to the Kenyan public.

"We call upon the Kenya public to think about their safety and their livelihoods and urge their government to immediately withdraw their troops from Somalia."

"Do not let the flames of this war spill over into your country, thereby destroying the notion of safety and stability that you have enjoyed for years.

"Do not entrust your fate and the fate of your country to a few sabre-rattling politicians. It is your government and the choice is in your hands."