Kenya says poaching financing separatist group

2015-06-05 12:34
(Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, AFP)

(Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, AFP)

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Nairobi - Authorities in Kenya said on Friday they had established a link between the smuggling of poached ivory to Asia and the financing of a coastal separatist group.

A statement from Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said 14 people were under arrest over a consignment of elephant tusks that was sent to Thailand, and that the cash was destined for the outlawed secessionist group the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC).

"Intelligence gathered so far confirms a growing nexus between poaching and financing and facilitating crime, including terrorism. In this case, we believe that this haul was meant to facilitate the activities of MRC," he said in a statement.

The banned MRC insists it is a political movement campaigning for the independence of Kenya's Muslim-majority Indian Ocean coast.

It has repeatedly denied any involvement in a string of attacks blamed on Islamist gunmen in the region, once one of Kenya's most popular tourist destinations.

The government, however, has blamed the MRC for a series of attacks in the area including a string of massacres last year near Lamu, although the Somali-led and Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab movement said it was responsible.

In April Thailand seized three tonnes of elephant ivory stashed in a container shipped from Kenya and marked as tea leaves.

Read more on:    kenya  |  poaching  |  east africa
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