“Stop throwing grenades at buses,” they said. “We need a huge blow against Kenya.”
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia’s al Shabaab rebels called Thursday for supporters in Kenya to carry out a major strike in retaliation for a 12-day military incursion by east Africa’s powerhouse.
Kenya has sent soldiers and heavy weapons into southern Somalia to crush the al Qaeda-linked militants Nairobi blames for a string of kidnappings on Kenyan soil and frequent border incursions.
Kenyan units have advanced on several fronts with Somali government troops and allied militias toward al Shabaab strongholds and a fighter jet bombed its port city of Kismayu on Sunday.
“The time to ask Kenya to stop war has passed. The only option is to fight them. Kenya, you have started the war and so you have to face the consequences,” Sheikh Muktar Robow Abu Mansoor, a top al Shabaab official, told a demonstration.
An al Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters his fighters had struck four Kenyan military vehicles near a town called Tabdo inside Somalia Thursday.
General Yusuf Hussein Dhumaal, the head of Somali troops in the area, denied there had been any ambush or fighting. Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua declined to comment.
The al Shabaab official urged sympathizers in Kenya to shun the grenade attacks that hit the capital Nairobi Monday, killing one person and wounding 29. Police said Thursday that all but six of the victims had now returned home.
“The Kenyan Mujahideen who were trained by Osama in Afghanistan, stop throwing grenades at buses. We need a huge blow against Kenya. Hand grenades hurled can harm them but we want huge blasts,” he told hundreds of people gathered in Elasha, near Mogadishu.
Jihad causes poverty:
Residents said al Shabaab had ordered them Wednesday to close businesses and attend the anti-Kenyan rallies.
The two grenade attacks on a bar and a bus terminus in downtown Nairobi have spooked Kenyans and security has been beefed up in the capital at hotels, government buildings, restaurants, bars and shopping malls.
All of these measures are costly, and a drain on resources. Even if al-Shabaab does not get a truck bomb into position, it has had an impact.
The blasts came two days after the U.S. embassy warned of an imminent attack. A Kenyan man has pleaded guilty to one of the attacks and being a member of al Shabaab.
Kenya’s Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said two more people had been arrested over the attacks and were due to appear in court this week. He said the man who pleaded guilty went to Somalia in February and returned to Kenya in August.
The United Nations has warned that hundreds of Kenyan Muslims have been recruited by al Shabaab and that youth organizations have raised funds for the Somali militants.
A U.N. Monitoring Group report on Somalia published in July said al Shabaab had extensive funding, recruiting and training networks within Kenya.
Al Shabaab has yet to carry out a major strike in Kenya but has used suicide bombers to devastating effect in Somalia and Uganda — whose troops are fighting the rebels in Mogadishu as part of an African Union force.
Twin suicide blasts in Kampala killed 79 people watching the soccer World Cup final last year and a truck bomb in Mogadishu killed more than 70 people earlier this month.
Unknown gunmen also attacked a vehicle in northeastern Kenya Thursday killing at least four government employees, local officials told Reuters. Media reports said they were targeted with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire.
Iteere said the vehicle transporting papers for school exams was attacked about 110 km (70 miles) from the northeastern town of Mandera, which is on the border with Ethiopia and Somalia.
Al-Shabaab may also decide Dar-es-Salaam is Dar al-Harb:
Kenya’s southern neighbor Tanzania also issued a terrorism alert late Wednesday following the Nairobi attacks….