Somalia’s al-Qaeda linked Shabaab terrorists have vowed to move their war to neighbouring Kenya, one of its top commanders said.
“The war will be shifting to Kenya, if they kill a Somali girl we kill a Kenyan girl,” Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, one of the Shabaab’s most senior commanders, said in a radio broadcast urging fighters to launch attacks.
“We are urging all the Muslims in Kenya … to fight the government of Kenya inside that country, because Kenyans killed your people including children,” Khalaf said in a speech broadcast on the Shabaab’s Radio Andalus.
The vow comes as Boko Haram terrorists have ramped up a string of attacks in Nigeria, including the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls, and a twin bomb attack that killed 118 people earlier this week.
Kenyan troops crossed into southern Somalia in 2011 to fight the Shabaab, later joining the now 22,000-strong UN-mandated African Union force battling the Islamists.
Fighter jets, believed to be from Kenya, have struck Shabaab strongholds this week, as part of the latest push by the AU force against the insurgents.
“When their soldiers and war planes kill your people, God permits you to retaliate accordingly, we will fight the Kenyans,” Khalf said, viewed as second in importance only to Shabaab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane.
The Shabaab, who claimed responsibility for the September 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall in which at least 67 people were killed, have also been blamed for a string of grenade blasts and killings.
Last week a double bomb attack in a Nairobi market left 10 people dead and scores wounded, while the US has said it was preparing to cut staff levels in Kenya because of the mounting threat of attacks.
The Shabaab said it was their guerillas who carried out a deadly ambush on an army convoy in Kenya’s north-eastern Mandera region on Monday, close to the border with Somalia.
Khalaf said the Shahaab had trained fighters and vowed more would be sent to carry out attacks inside Kenya.
“We have trained the people … they are the ones who carried out the Mandera attack,” he said. “More are
going to be sent soon.”
The US have offered a $5 million bounty for Khalaf, who holds both Somali and Swedish nationality.
Khalaf, who the US says is both a Shebab military commander and key fundraiser, reportedly spent over a decade in the Swedish capital Stockholm.